Dear Church Family and Friends,
Last week, I wrote to you about the importance of inreach, or as I like to call it, one-anothering. These are great ideas if you understand them, but understanding is never enough. We need to ask how to do them, and I wrote that one excellent way is through small groups. It will take some time to explain small groups, but I think I’ll begin with the what, why, how, where, and when.
What is a small group (SG)? It is a group of Christians who meet in order to help each other grow as disciples of Christ. Because this involves conversation amongst the various members of the group, the group is small enough to make sure that every member can be involved in the discussion. This could be anywhere from 8 to 16 people. It could be smaller, but quieter people might feel more pressure to carry the conversation. It could be larger, but that would only allow the talkative ones to monopolize the time.
I suppose I ought to clarify just what the SG discusses. There are a lot of competing ideas out there, and everything from gossip circles to book studies to subjective here’s-what-this-means-to-me meetings have been labeled “small groups.” These are not what I am referring to. SGs – when done well – discuss the truth of Scripture that has been fed to them by their pastor / teacher and use it to build one another up.
While I’m clarifying, I’ll mention a few other things that SGs are not. They are not Bible studies. SGs will use the Bible and discuss, apply, and even study it, but the focus is more on the living than the learning. This means that they are not the same thing as Sunday School. Also, though prayer will happen, they are not prayer meetings. SGs will pray specifically for one another for things affecting their lives as Christians but won’t spend much time on the sorts of requests that populate most church prayer lists. And, though they embody the Biblical idea of fellowship, they are not casual gatherings spent talking mainly about sports, the weather, gardening, doctors, etc.
However, small groups are a place where Christians can expect to be encouraged, challenged, and loved by their Christian siblings who take the Bible for their authority and long to see the glory of Christ in each of our lives.
For His glory and your joy,