So what exactly is a small group? “A small group, within the church, is a voluntary, intentional gathering of three to fifteen people regularly meeting together with the shared goal of mutual Christian edification, fellowship and service.”
“Christianity Is Community” -William Barclay
Why small groups? Building relationships is fundamental to building disciples. “Jesus said the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mt. 22:37-39) Small groups uniquely create the atmosphere whereby relationships can be deepened: both between every member of the group and God, and between every member and each other.
“Love one another…” (John 13:14)
Jesus was the leader of a small group. Important features of Jesus’ involvement with his small group, the twelve disciples, are…
- He spent the majority of his time with them.
- Relationships were more important to Jesus than institutions
- Although Jesus was involved with large groups on occasion, the small group was Jesus’ primary context for leadership development.
The early church experienced the intimacy of small group meetings in homes. (Acts 2:42-47)
The many “one another” texts in the New Testament point to the primacy of interpersonal relationships within the Christian life. When the Apostle Paul lists some of the defining characteristics of a Christian (Col. 3:12-17), the striking feature of that description is that they all have to do with relationships. It is clear throughout the New Testament that the Gospel is a social gospel in that our Christianity is to be lived out in the context of community.
Many of the epistles (letters) were written to small groups of believers.
“Honor one another…” (Romans 12:10)
The Christian who is not committed to a group of other believers for praying, sharing, and serving, so that he is known, as he knows others, is not an obedient Christian. He is not in the will of God. However vocal he may be in his theology, he is not obeying the Lord.” –Dr. Ray Ortland
The results of a survey by George Gallup, reporting on the impact of small groups showed that…
- 90% said their faith was deepened.
- 89% came away with a better feeling about themselves.
- 88% were able to become more open about themselves.
- 86% were better equipped to forgive others.
- 85% were helped to serve people outside their group.
Benefits other churches are reporting…
- Friendships among members are facilitated
- Pastoral Care is given and received by members of the group
- Assimilation of new members
- Leadership Development
- Spiritual Growth
- Crisis Intervention
- Service to the Church and Community
“Live in harmony with one another…” Romans 12:16
“Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage each other.” (Hebrews 10:25)
Small groups have often been the tool God has used in my own life to provide a place of trust and security where healing and growth could be experienced. In small groups Jody and I have felt love and have been cared for in ways that are simply not possible in larger contexts.
There are some wonderful benefits that a healthy, thoroughly planned small group ministry can bring to First Baptist. Among these are the discovery of spiritual gifts, the development of lay leadership, effective congregational care, dynamic worship, effective evangelism and spiritual growth.
Small groups can be traced through the centuries to the birth of the Church (Acts 2:46-47), and to Jesus himself who recruited a “small group” of 12 to teach, encourage, and equip for ministry. Jesus and the early church used small groups to perpetuate the faith and build up the kingdom of God. May we commit ourselves to following their example.
You are Invited!
We hope the information found here will help you discern God’s leading concerning your possible involvement in a small group. Small groups can be one of the most rewarding and life-changing experiences in the life of a Christian. There are few things more satisfying than being part of a group of people that come together in Jesus’ name, and learn how to love one another and serve Him better. We want to help you get connected. For more information or to join a group phone our church office at 521-4708.
“…Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4:32)