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Sunday, February 05, 2023
church & ministry
The Effectiveness of 'Happiness Group' Varies in 4 Places
A picture shows a small group meeting under COVID-19 pandemic.A picture shows a small group meeting under COVID-19 pandemic.

In recent years, many churches have adopted the “Happiness Group” method to promote church growth.

The Christian Times, a Chinese online Christian newspaper, interviewed several pastors in different places to learn about implementing the "Happiness Group" (called Group for short) in their churches.

With the effects of the Group in churches of various other places, pastors have different views on the outreach ministry.

Originating from Kaohsiung Blessed & Blessing Church, the Group is an evangelism method led by two or more church staff, including icebreaker games, worship and praise, testimony sharing, sermons, communication, and interaction. Compared with traditional evangelistic meetings, the Group has some advantages, such as systematic gospel resources and continuous biblical training.

Rev. Tang Ming serves in a church that has carried out the Group for several years. "We are now vigorously promoting the project, benefiting from which many people are baptized every year." Tang believes that the measure is appropriate to the actual situation of his church.

A male believer named Zhao Chaowen took a negative attitude towards the Group, as it failed to achieve the desired effect.

"A big problem of the Group is that the turnover rate of believers is very high. People come to study the Bible in the Group, but many leave after being baptized, which is one of the flaws of it as far as I can see."

Zhao said that in each round of Group in his church, eight study sessions were given once a week for two months. The problem was that some people's lives had not changed, especially for some bad living habits, but the group leader mobilized them to be baptized. After the baptism, some stopped going to church, while some misbehaved, still smoking as before.

After discovering such problems, some churches continue to train them for two months before the baptism, which significantly reduces the attrition rate of believers, as they help them strengthen their faith rather than urge them to be a believer at once. Therefore, Zhao said there would be a big problem if the church were eager for quick success.

Another male Christian, Sun Qiang's church, also conducts the Group. Sun said that in the Group, it was easier for people to understand the gospel through some indirect approaches. Sun stated that when people were well received and respected, the atmosphere was easily set off, and they could integrate into the team through ice-breaking games and other links. Sun believed it was not easy to evangelize so that the church could save people in this fashion. "It may not be the best way, but it is suitable for today's church," Sun added.

According to another male church member, Mu Chao, it took up to five years for a person to become a member of a small group and then become a group leader to serve. The Group has several stages, with these eight courses as the first stage for seekers. Therefore, after these courses, he thought it was unsuitable for catechumens to be baptized immediately, as they needed to grow spiritually through accompaniment and guidance. And it was unrealistic for a person to establish faith and grow up to commit to the church through these eight courses. Mu concluded, "You can’t nurture a seeker in a pragmatic or utilitarian way."

(At the request of the interviewees, the names of the characters in the article are all pseudonyms.)

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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