Friday I heard a radio interview of Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life, the bestselling hardback in American history, with over 30 million copies sold worldwide. One of the topics that Rick discussed was the importance of small groups to the health and growth of a church.

He believes that small group activity is one of the most important areas of focus to maintain a healthy ministry. Saddleback is a mega-church with multiple locations in Southern California. While the size of Saddleback can be imposing to some, their emphasis on small group activity provides their members with an intimate experience that is more focused on the needs of the individual.

The Saddleback Church website lists eight reasons for joining a small group. The first two may be the most important. Pastor Rick points out that while preaching and teaching is an important way to communicate, church members can learn much more about the bible (or whatever the focus is of the small group) in a small group because they can ask questions and share insights.

The second reason is that you can really feel like a part of the family. “Most people who have been a part of a group say the greatest benefit is the close relationships and friendships that develop.” You can read all eight reasons on their site.

Whether your intent is to maintain a healthy ministry or your goal is also growth in membership, a focus on meaningful small group activity is crucial to any church, large or small. Do not forget about the importance of small groups.

Read Part 2: A Tool that Helps Small Groups that Grow