In a recent podcast episode, “reboot your small group strategy for the fall and finally make it awesome” we shared how a lot of churches might not have the most successful strategy in mind when it comes to their small groups. A typical small group focus is one where, A) people have an opportunity to go “deeper” in their spiritual walk via a book or study, or B) the time is an extension of the weekend message where people can talk about and process what they heard.

While neither of those focuses is bad, at we have observed that typically that’s not what most people want out of a small group, and in addition to that most people desire a more stimulating and engaging way to spend their time. You may have observed that too, but if you haven’t, in that episode, we outlined that once you’ve identified who your regular small group audience is, you should predominantly focus on friends and focus on purpose.

could purpose transform your small group system?

Of course you might occasionally use small groups as a tool to gather your whole church around a topic. However, when you focus on friends and purpose it means you recognize that most people who are attending a small group are doing so because they are looking for relationships, community, and a place to belong. When you change the focus of small groups to relationships, your church has the ability be the “hands and feet of Jesus” in new ways.

The only way to further deepen that experience would be to craft your small groups around the idea that they would serve each other and the world together. When people serve together, in long or short capacities, they make bonds that can only be understood by other people who were a part of the same activities. Giving a small group a purpose like serving the community allows the church to be the church in so many ways that the Bible repeatedly shares that we should be. The best part is when it’s done with friends and people you love; it’s fun. It’s not a chore to be done, but rather an experience you get to share.

In that episode, we talked about how we would try to come up with a list of some of the ways that your small groups could serve together. Below you’ll find different groups of people and institutions that you can help, for a total of twenty-four different ideas to make a huge impact in your community and the Kingdom of God.

24 serves you could do with your small group to impact your community

if you want to serve kids:

#1 children’s hospital: Children’s hospitals have so many perpetually sick and terminally ill kids. There is a place for your small group to make a huge impact by serving there.

#2 working alongside a local school: Local schools can always use help in a variety of ways. If you let them know you have eight adults willing to help once a month or more, they will find a way for you to serve.

#3 tutoring kids: This could coincide with a school. Or potentially you could offer this through your church, or even do a grassroots type movement, where you just show up in a neighborhood that could use support. Whatever you choose, consistency in schedule and reliability is key.

#4 youth sports league: Consider adopting a team or league to coach or work with as a small group.

#5 big brother, big sister – Your whole group could adopt a sibling and then take them all out at the same time, on group activities. There is also room to volunteer within the organization in other ways.

#6 after shool activities: Consider partnering with a local school, day care or extended care program and just come in and love on kids on a frequent basis.

#7 ronald mcdonald house: Children undergoing long-term treatment are able to have their family close by through a RMH. There are so many ways to serve this organization and help.

if you want to serve your community:

#8 food pantry or food bank: From sorting, packing, unloading, and boxing, food banks always need help and love when groups stop in.

#9 soup kitchen: Consider serving food to the disenfranchised in your community. A recognizable friendly face can make a huge difference.

#10 volunteer at a local museum or attraction: Attractions regardless of whether they are for profit or not would rarely turn down a group of helping hands.

#11 parks and rec opportunities: Consider cleaning or fixing up a park, or local spot where families in your community gather. Your local office can tell you how.

#12 shelter (mens, womens, family, rescue mission): Depending on the city you live in, there are usually several shelters that give a place for people to sleep day after day. Shelters are generally run on donations and volunteers and would love your help.

#13 thrift store or salvation army: Thrift shops give those in poverty access to super cheap clothes and items. They provide jobs to people who have a hard time finding one, and love volunteers.

#14 local road or campsite clean-ups: Consider contacting your city and finding a spot to maintain on a regular basis. Sometimes they will even put up a sign to celebrate your efforts.

#15 neighborhood bbq: This idea is super simple, but have your small group host a BBQ that an entire neighborhood can attend. This will give you a super quick pass to connecting with more people in the name of your church.

if you want to serve civil servants:

#16 teacher caroling: Consider having your group stop at teacher’s houses singing some super fun songs to say thank you.

#17 police officers and first responders: There are so many ways you could serve these people, but bringing coffee or a treat before a long night’s work is a good start.

#18 firefighters: Not only could you say thank you with a gift, but your entire small group could consider serving as volunteer firefighters together.

if you want to help with healthcare and people in need:

#19 blood donation: Consider hosting a blood drive, or even hosting several blood drives, at all of the jobs represented in your small group, or helping your church to host one.

#20 habitat for humanity: Find your local chapter for opportunities to build or even volunteer at one of their ReStore resale shops.

#21 adult day care: Many adults with disabilities stay in homes as they get older. While there is paid staff attending to people, imagine the impact your small group could make to bring new energy to an environment like that.

#22 volunteer at the hospital: Your local hospital has many ways you can help and give back, call to find out their specific needs.

#23 crisis pregnancy center: From making calls, to transporting items, to helping put on events, there are a ton of ways to serve your local CPC.

#24 singing for the nursing homes: Music can calm a person or bring about happiness or nostalgia. So many individuals in nursing homes feel forgotten and unloved. What if you regularly went and sang or visited a nursing home with your small group, think of the impact you could make.

Of course, we know that every church needs people to serve during the weekend experience too. We are constantly talking about ways to recruit and empower volunteers, but this topic isn’t about the weekend. There is so much progress to be made in your small group experiences when you give your groups a purpose outside of the weekend experience. It will bond them together and show them that a small group of people can make a big difference together. Consider rebooting your small group strategy for the fall and creating groups that focus on friends and focus on purpose.

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Stacia Stall

Stacia Stall

Chief Creative Officer

Stacia has over a decade of ministry experience, with the majority of that time leading next generation change. She has experience leading almost one hundred volunteers, and developing curriculum for kids and students. Stacia has a B.S. in Church Ministries and Biblical Studies, as well as experience educating in an elementary public school environment. She is also immensely creative and accomplished in teaching children about the wonder of God.