Small Groups/house churches are special tools for today's church. If Sunday night at the building works for congregations, then praise God. For me, small groups have meant new life for Memorial and for my spirit. Sunday nights had become Jr. church; Sr. was the morning service. Small Groups have put the all important connection factor into the family which is enhanced by the Sunday morning reunion.
A mistake Memorial made at the onset of the Small Group move (and I was the leader) was we tried to make all groups fit the same mold. This is a typical leadership move as we tend to think ours is the best composite of all ideas. Wrong. Mine wasn't even the best idea for me.
Through belonging to about six groups over the years, we finally hit what works for our group...prayer. We pray. I avoided prayer when I began ministry. How boring especially when there was so much work to do. Yet, our small group gathers to pray. Two of our people have yet to pray aloud, but they are praying just the same.
I know of no other group at Memorial which does the format we do. I don't even know of any in other congregations. I hear of variations of formats and approaches even to the extent that some don't attend a small group except their favorite TV show or their workbench at home. Awesome. The Sunday night imperative was created by us; not God.
Small Groups are a blessing to the church. They seem to work better when we let those involved work out the best approach for their people. The cookie cutter is a good idea for keep dough on the sheet in decorative form. It isn't a good tool for the wide range of heart and spirit needs among the people being reformed into the image of Christ.