Today’s blog post is taken from the book Great Expectations. In the selection I’ve chosen, the author goes into some detail about the differences between open and closed groups, and whether or not closed groups are “bad” groups.
Closed groups are not bad. They’re just closed! Closed groups are, in fact, superior to open groups for helping people go deeper in discipleship or relationships…Whereas open groups are ongoing, closed groups are typically short-term, meeting for a prescribed number of sessions. Whereas open groups employ a curriculum plan ensuring that each individual lesson or session provides a complete and satisfying study of a Bible passage, closed groups typically use a curriculum plan that is sequential: each lesson or session builds on the previous ones. While members of an open group may be encouraged to prepare ahead of time for the session, there is limited accountability for actually doing so. In a closed group, however, members are typically expected to prepare for the session to participate fully in it. Personal accountability is also typically higher in a closed group. Members of a closed group are more likely to get involved in one another’s lives.
Due to the nature of a closed group, it does not expect new people to attend and does not make any intentional effort to remain open, especially several weeks into an in-depth study. These principles of closed groups are the primary reason a church should not employ a closed-group strategy in an open-group Sunday School format. Using a closed-group philosophy or using closed-group resources would violate the psychology and sociology of invitation that are crucial for keeping a group open.