Public Ministry versus Small Group Ministry

In the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, we see two different types of ministries. Understanding the difference can supercharge our own ministries.



We see two different ministry patterns in Jesus Christ:

  1. Public Ministry
  2. Small Group ministry



Jesus sowed seeds. He sowed them widely. This was his Public Ministry. He preached and taught. He met lots and lots of people. He conversed with naysayers. This is his ministry to the crowds, the teeming masses of people.

He flung those seeds of Public Ministry broadly, widely, indiscriminately. He sowed in locations he knew would not produce fruit: the path, the thorns, the rocks. He flung those seeds everywhere. He sowed wastefully, even.

Jesus chose to be involved in the lives of most people in a way that was not lengthy. His ministry to them didn’t last very long. Maybe the duration was a few sentences or a few parables, a few loaves and fishes or a few days. Even if individuals came back to him a few times, he didn’t pursue them.

Setting-wise, in most cases, his Public Ministry was from a distance. Think of the multitudes of people in a crowd. But once in a while, the recipient was up-close with him, possibly even one-on-one.

There were a whole lot of people touched by his Public Ministry. Even though he was involved with them only lightly, he covered a lot of ground and touched a lot of souls. Think of Jesus going from town to town, preaching and teaching, healing and driving out demons. Think of him feeding more than 5,000 people at once.

Even though Jesus ministered to a great number of people in the Public Ministry group, they weren’t actually his major focus.

If not them, who was?



Now let’s talk about Christ’s second group: his Small Group Ministry. In the lives of some very specific people, Christ’s ministry was very deep. He concentrated on a few. A very few. They were hand-picked individuals.

He sustained his ministry to these few for months or years. He offered them close personal attention, usually in a small group setting, but sometimes one-on-one. They constituted his Small Group Ministry.

Public Ministry was not Christ’s primary ministry. Time-wise, his primary efforts were on behalf of his Small Group Ministry group.

How many received this ministry? Few. Very few.

Jesus deliberately selected the people in his Small Group Ministry group. He selected at least some of them from the vast pool of people in his Public Ministry. And he dedicated himself to them. He trained them. Extensively. They were the real focus of his life. His involvement with them was deep, and it was usually in an intimate setting: private and in a small group setting.

Jesus spent more time with the few in his Small Group Ministry than he did with everyone else in the world put together. That had to be very deliberate, or else it was the biggest mistake in the history of the world.

Jesus was not mistaken about this.



And so Jesus gives us a solid template for our own ministry to others . . .

  1. Scatter lightly and widely in a Public Ministry that suits your gifts
  2. Spend the bulk of your ministry time in your Small Group Ministry to a very few.

Your own Small Group Ministry could be as many as six or eight or twelve. It might be as few as you and one other person.


Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

At Explore the Faith, I share insights into the Bible and theological writings. If you like what I write, become my partner by donating. Help me reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.