The Tuesday feature of the Worldly Saints is all about reading. The post is meant to share some of my reflections from the latest book or magazine article or blog post I have or am reading. At times, I may post a book blurb (a wannabe book review) or recommend books to be read by others.
I am in a season of reading books on small group ministry for the local church. As a member and pastor in a church that prioritizes small group ministry, I am thrilled to be able to get involved in a group of 12-15 people who can regularly build me up, encourage me, etc. I am a big believer that small group ministry can be an incredible asset for fellowship, equipping and even outreach in a local church.
At my church, I have the privilege of leading 2 small groups. Both of them function similarly and include a time of refreshments, chatting, praying, discussion-oriented Bible study (Genesis in one group and Ecclesiastes in the other group). The discussions are usually geared to draw out both meaning and application from the books we are considering.
Thus, today’s post will seek to answer the question, “Why should a local church have a small group ministry?” Here are 7 reasons (in no particular order).
#1 – We were created to be with people. In Genesis 2:18, God says that is it not good for any of us to be alone, and as some have pointed out, He said that even before the fall. God made us as relational beings. We were not created to be alone. For Adam, He created Eve. When God saves us, we are brought into the family of God. Christians always “do better” when they are around and learning from other Christians.
#2 – Jesus had a small group. He chose 12 men (11 of whom would be faithful) to invest in, meet with regularly, disciple formally and informally, “do life” with, etc. While Jesus certainly had other followers and larger groups of people who observed His life and ministry, only 12 men had the privilege of getting “up close and personal.”
#3 – The early church saw the value in going from house to house for the purpose of eating with each other, fellowship, prayer, giving, worship, teaching (Acts 2:42-47). That is house to house, not church building to church building. In fact, you could make a case, that the early churches functioned more like the modern-day small groups you see in many churches.
#4 – The “one another’s” of Scripture are near impossible to be faithful with if you only have a Sunday morning or other corporate meeting time. At some point, you have to break the church down into small groups so that you can be more proactive in serving one another, admonishing one another, praying for one another, encouraging one another, etc. These “one another’s” are God’s prescribed, intentional ways that we disciple, equip and edify the church. At our church we call our small group ministry 1A Groups, which stands for “one another.”
#5 – Small groups allow for people to get more involved in the life of the church. They permit members and non-members to have a better assessment of needs, opportunities for service, etc. As people get to know one another is small groups, they can meet the needs of the people in that group much quicker. There is a level of transparency and accountability that is much more difficult to build and protect in a larger setting.
#6 – Small groups can provide of forum in which a person can discover and even practice their spiritual gifts. I shared with my congregation recently that one of the best methods for discovering your spiritual gift is to simply get involved somewhere and see what the Lord does. In a smaller setting, with an intimate group, your fellow attendees can encourage you to seek out certain ministries based upon the giftedness they have observed in you.
#7 – Pastoral care is more manageable when we divide up the congregation for elders/pastors. Giving an elder/pastor a small group to either lead or be involved with allows him as a designated shepherd to better care for God’s flock as he enjoys and participates in the six reasons listed above.