This is an excerpt from an article by Rick Warren on the different kinds of small groups out there. It's instructive to not define groups too narrowly. Any kind of group built around the Gospel is a potential way to build community.
"We have four different types of small groups that people can be a part of at our church. Each has its own strengths. Some involve group members for ministry. Some help church members develop a relationship with non-Christians – and others try to help believers deal with the overwhelming crises of life. Yet all of them have one thing in common – they connect people with others at the church. Each is connected to a different purpose of the church.
Whole article here
- Membership: These groups focus on the crises of life – addictions, victimizations, terminal illness, etc. These are our care groups and Celebrate Recovery groups.
- Maturity: These are what most people think of when they think of small groups. Our maturity groups focus on all the purposes – worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and evangelism. They meet in homes and study a biblical topic or a book of the Bible.
- Ministry: These groups are built around ministries in the church. You may not think of them as small groups, but they are. Your ushers are in a group. Your music ministry is a group. Your greeters are a group. They’re not only serving the church, but they’re building relationships in the group. These relationships make your church feel smaller.
- Missions: The whole focus of these groups is reaching people who aren’t Christians. These are what we used to call “seeker” Bible studies. They allow people who have questions about the Bible to come and explore it in a safe environment. They could be outreach Bible studies held in local businesses. They could be mission teams that don’t meet together to study anything; they meet to do missions together. Nothing ties a group of people together better than a common purpose, particularly when that purpose is reaching people with the gospel."