Healthy congregations encourage members to form into small groups, also known as "cell groups" or what we call "circles of friends."
These groups serve as the primary locus of belonging and peer-to-peer pastoral care. Because they don't depend on the direct participation of clergy or lay staff, they enable the congregation to be "scalable," that is, to grow far beyond the capacity of one or a few pastors to be primary caregivers.
In this section, we discuss some basic best practices for envisioning and getting started with small groups. A considerable body of study has arisen around small groups, in case you want to dig deeper.