Getting People in Small Groups is Not the Goal
I'm sitting in a conference listening to a real-life case study. A pastor from Texas presented his problem: "How do we get more people in small groups?" He went on to explain that only about 500 of their 2200 attendees are involved in small groups.
The conference participants then helped this pastor find a solution for getting more people in small groups.
But to me, it seems like the wrong question. Why is the goal to get more people in small groups? I'm sure his goal is bigger than just getting people in close proximity to each other. There must be something that happens in small groups that he really wants people involved in. Perhaps it is Bible study, or deeper relationships, or perhaps he knows that spiritual growth happens better in the context of those relationships.
Asking "why aren't more people in small groups" seems like a newer version of the question, "Why can't we get more people to attend Sunday school?" It doesn't really get to the real desire.
Maybe it would be better to ask, "How do we get more people to study the Bible?" or "How do we get people to take spiritual steps in deeper relationship with others?"
Maybe the answer isn't Sunday School...or small groups. Maybe it's something we haven't even thought of. Maybe it is 50 different answers for a church of 2200 people.
It is so easy to get stuck on a method. That which is innovative today can become an idolatrous method tomorrow.