A small group is a cluster of 3 or more people who have gathered for a reason. This may be as formal as a therapy group, a church fellowship group or as informal as three or four friends who meet for coffee. There is no end to the creative names given to these groups such as cell groups, Bible studies, fellowship groups, house church, organic church and so on.
What we call the group, who sponsored the group and where the group meets is far less important than what happens when the group gathers. The acronym “SAFE’S” is what I use to pinpoint 5 compelling reasons every believer should participate in or lead a small group.
Spiritual Depth - Small groups allow for more in-depth study and application of the Word of God. In the small group environment we are freer to ask questions and share what we have learned about a topic or passage. We are also much more likely to find personal application as we share with each other. In addition, the accountability and encouragement found in a small group surpasses what is normally found in a larger congregation.
Allows for prayer - Small groups can pray more and more specifically than larger meetings or most church services. Acts chapter two gives us the clear understanding that the early church was big on both prayer and small groups. Consider what verses 42 and 46 say, “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.”
Focus - Small groups, when led intentionally, keep us focused on Christ. In the early church it was the standard for them to break bread together. The breaking of bread was the fellowship meal in which the early church celebrated communion and remembered all that Jesus had done for them. A small group that takes communion together on a regular basis has a built in auto correction for the focus of the group.
A small group that encourages the Body of Christ to function in the variety of gifts and callings that the Holy Spirit gives will be more focused because each part is functioning and bringing balance. Ephesians 4:15-16 states, “But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
Effectiveness - Small groups are more effective than larger gatherings at basic things like evangelism, discipleship, the exercising of gifts and meeting practical needs. If we evaluate the ministry model that Jesus used we can see that He spoke to large groups on a regular basis. However, the majority of healing, deliverance and training took place within a much smaller crowd. When Jesus trained His leadership team, the disciples, He normally waited until the crowds left. The small group of disciples that remained received the most in depth training, equipping.
In our rush to do things faster and in mass we can easily sacrifice the most basic elements of equipping and releasing. Jesus invested His time and every aspect of His life in the disciples. He didn’t just meet them for class once or twice per week.
Shared Experiences - Small groups help create fellowship and shared experiences. In our technology and gadget driven society many people’s shared experience is clicking like on the same Facebook comment. It is rare to find a family that sits together for the evening meal and it is just as rare to find true fellowship in the church.
The reality is that people crave relationships and the strongest relationships are built around shared experiences. These shared experiences not only solidify friendships but easily open opportunities for prayer, discipleship and even correction. If you stop and think about the most influential people in your life chances are that your mind will be filled with all kinds of experiences that you shared together. Small groups create a connection point for shared experiences.
If you would like to know more about small groups join us for the online training service on small groups. To find out more Click Here.
Chat with you soon,Pastor Dave SmuinPresidentNCCChurch.org@DaveSmuin