It’s hard enough to maintain lifelong friendships. How can we expect to sustain a small group for the long haul? You may find this view somewhat unsentimental, but sometimes it’s okay to leave and even encourage some members to leave your small group. It’s often a necessary part of our spiritual growth.
I’m not saying you ought to leave your group whimsically just because you don’t’ feel like going. If there is relational conflict or sin causing you to have doubts about your group, then you need to confess and work through those issues with your group. In fact, those are some of the most important reasons for being in your group. However, if you truly love your group members and know it’s for their own benefit and spiritual growth to leave, then encourage them to do so.
There is no one-size-fits-all small group. If your group is so flexible and accommodating to everyone and every life season that no spiritual growth is really happening, then your group is unhealthy. Spiritually thriving groups inevitably find some of its group members seeking out God-sized goals that are sometimes beyond the confines of the group, its geographical location and even the congregation altogether. Small groups often change size and shape for this reason.
One of the groups I am in now is reshaping with new leaders and members. We recently needed a reboot. There were mixed feelings about whether or not the group should persist because most of our group members left as a result of life-changes. We had members who moved hundreds, even thousands of miles away to pursue their ministry and career dreams. One member is getting married and is moving closer to their fiancee. These are positive life-changes and goals that we prayed would happen. God answered those prayers, and now we are faced with the reality that losing members is a necessary step in reaching those goals.
It’s clear that God has been blessing the individuals in my group even if that means people have left and the group has shrunk. That shrinking is a good thing because I believe that the spiritual depth of a small group is inversely related to its size. That’s why we call them small groups in the first place. They’re intended to be small so that we can have more intimate fellowship with other believers.