Small groups are difficult to sustain in the American church. Churches retool their groups every three or four years to keep interest. They change the name, try a new curriculum, hire a new staff member, and adjust the schedule but in the end groups continue to peter out.
Small group ministry exposes the gap between what we know community should be for the children of God and the American culture. “We are unaware that our culture has subverted our faith” and so we continue to tinker with our small group ministry oblivious to the cultural values that are driving our people’s lives.
Joseph Hellerman writes, “We in America have been socialized to believe that our own dreams, goals, and personal fulfillment ought to take precedence over the well-being of any group.”
When a group, even our family, hinders our ambitions we either abandon the relationships or ease them to the margins of our lives. Americans have established evasive maneuvers so that whenever relational commitment levels get too high we can escape.
To be a follower of Jesus is to put the welfare of others ahead of your own interests. Jesus placed the twelve disciples into a group and then demonstrated from his own actions how to serve and how to consider others first. He then expected the disciples to serve one another in the group and to lay down their lives for the others just as he had done for them.
“As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
“I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:23
 Volf, Miroslav. Exclusion & Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996. P.53.
 Hellerman, Joseph H. When the Church Was a Family (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2009)