Dear Church Family and Friends,
This past Sunday, I told you that for the past 12 weeks or so, ten of us have been running a small group experiment, putting into practice all of the things that I have previously written to you about SGs to see how and if (!) it would work. I am pleased now to tell you that everyone in the group said that the experience exceeded their expectations and would heartily recommend it to others in our church! I would encourage you to talk with them and ask them about it, if it is something that interests you. The group consisted of N. and me, Mr. & Mrs. M., Mr. & Mrs. C, Mr. & Mrs. M., Mr. F., and Mrs. P., and for at least 9 of the weeks, we met in my living room.
That answers the question of where SGs meet: in homes. There are a number of good reasons for this. First, a quick look at the New Testament shows that this is what the early church did. (Yes, I know they didn’t have church buildings, but even in Jerusalem where they met in large groups, they also met in homes.) Also, it allows Christians to practice true hospitality. Often our homes are the last places we want to see others, but meeting in homes has an authentic, real-life feel to it where we are more likely to be ourselves. And then there is the unspoken-but-reinforced idea that God is present and working in our lives outside of the church house, in the same place where we eat our meals, read the news, and watch football.
That said, two caveats: 1) SGs don’t have to meet in homes. There may be instances where another location is necessary. And although SGs point us to life lived outside the church building, there may be occasions where it is the only place a group can meet. 2) The home in which an SG meets need not be large or well-furnished, but it should be clean. Homes with cats or other indoor/outdoor animals or that are permeated with smoke or mold could make people with allergies sick. (This isn’t a criticism of anyone’s house or hospitality, just a reminder for those who don’t struggle with these things.)
Those who open their homes to host SGs truly are a blessing to their fellow Christians. Some of us are gifted in this area, while others are not. That’s OK! One of the blessings of SGs is that they create more opportunities for us to use our spiritual gifts. Of course, one of the qualifications for a Pastor is that he be “given to hospitality,” so I was happy to host this SG experiment in my own home.(see 1 Tim. 3:2) It was a pleasure, and I know that there are others who are eager to share in this blessing. If you have a room that gathers more dust than visitors or chairs that get used only once or twice a year, hosting a SG might be just what the Lord has for you! And even if you don’t have these things, it’s still a blessing you might want to share!
On another note, my pastor friend, Josh Teis, has told of the great experience they’re having with Small Groups in their church, especially through the ministry of Small Group leaders. You can read more about what this very fruitful ministry looks like here.
What about your Small Group experiences? Have you been part of a Small Group that met in a home? Coffee shop? Parking Lot? Church building? Which do you think is best and why? Let me know in your reply!
Also, don’t forget to register for our upcoming Men of the South Men’s Conference!