This past summer I read a book entitled Misisonal Small Groups by Scott Boren. I would recommend the book to anyone mission-minded as I thought Scott made some excellent observations, particularly in breaking down what he sees as four types of groups.
Having been involved in multiple small Christian groups myself – some structured, some unstructured, some in the capacity as a leader, some as a follower – I would say none of them yet have been necessarily missional. In case you’re not familiar with the buzzword “missional,” Wikipedia has a pretty good definition.
One theme in Scott’s book is that missional small groups cannot be formularized. You can’t formularize how God is going to work or how he will choose to use his servants to help accomplish his work. However, there are principles… though the principles may not be convenient or popular.
“This book does not provide a program, plan, or method for group success. Instead it points to a way of life together that makes a difference in the world.”
One recurring theme was being missional is being relational
Perhaps my favorite quote was his tip on the direction a small group should head when planning ministry:
“Refuse to simply add some kind of service project or outreach initiative to your group experience and call that missional. As an alternative, take a more relational route. Build relationships with some people who are under resourced and listen to their stories and their needs. Or befriend some people in your neighborhood without any secret motivation to get them to pray a prayer or come to your group. Simply listen to them, share life, and see what God is already doing in their lives.”