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Small Groups - 5 Things You Must Know

Small Groups - 5 Things You Must Know

A small group is a cluster of 3 or more people who have gathered for a reason. Small-Groups 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 Smuin
President
NCCChurch.org
@DaveSmuin
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Comments 16

Michael Pagana on Tuesday, 02 September 2014 18:14

I just read this article on small groups and watched the training video on Youtube....To quote Dr. Dave from the video, "Don't ever underestimate the power and necessity for a group dynamic, where people can get together become a little bit vulnerable and practice applying biblical truth. That is really what the foundation of a small group is all about. Where we can be vulnerable enough to live out the truth together..."

I am a HUGE advocate for small groups as I believe it is impossible consistently to live out the truth on our own. I'm in the process of reading our second required reading called Authentic Spiritual Mentoring. I obviously agree with Kreider when he proclaims that we all need to be mentoring younger believers. And there are times when this is taking place in a one-on-one setting. But overall, I do not believe a person can fully grow in spiritual maturity without being involved in a small group. Nor do I think a mentor or church leader can fully develop their pastoral skills and mentoring skills without their regular involvement in a small group as well.

I have been leading and facilitating a small group for men over the last 8 years. The conversations and relationships I've developed in that group have forever changed the way I approach life. I cannot see myself trying to life the Christian life without being connected to other men on a regular basis. I will always be involved in a small group.

Dr. Dave, I was also very inspired to hear about the small group in your home that involves your children. I have little ones (four daughters ages 4-9). Right now I only meet privately with men and my wife has a couple smalls groups that she meets with. And now after watching this, I would love to find a few families to share life with where we can incorporate moments of family worship and prayer.

Thanks for the inspiration Dr. Dave. Great lesson my friend.

Mike

I just read this article on small groups and watched the training video on Youtube....To quote Dr. Dave from the video, "Don't ever underestimate the power and necessity for a group dynamic, where people can get together become a little bit vulnerable and practice applying biblical truth. That is really what the foundation of a small group is all about. Where we can be vulnerable enough to live out the truth together..." I am a HUGE advocate for small groups as I believe it is impossible consistently to live out the truth on our own. I'm in the process of reading our second required reading called Authentic Spiritual Mentoring. I obviously agree with Kreider when he proclaims that we all need to be mentoring younger believers. And there are times when this is taking place in a one-on-one setting. But overall, I do not believe a person can fully grow in spiritual maturity without being involved in a small group. Nor do I think a mentor or church leader can fully develop their pastoral skills and mentoring skills without their regular involvement in a small group as well. I have been leading and facilitating a small group for men over the last 8 years. The conversations and relationships I've developed in that group have forever changed the way I approach life. I cannot see myself trying to life the Christian life without being connected to other men on a regular basis. I will always be involved in a small group. Dr. Dave, I was also very inspired to hear about the small group in your home that involves your children. I have little ones (four daughters ages 4-9). Right now I only meet privately with men and my wife has a couple smalls groups that she meets with. And now after watching this, I would love to find a few families to share life with where we can incorporate moments of family worship and prayer. Thanks for the inspiration Dr. Dave. Great lesson my friend. Mike
Michael Pagana on Monday, 01 September 2014 21:18

I just read this article on small groups and watched the training video on Youtube....To quote Dr. Dave from the video, "Don't ever underestimate the power and necessity for a group dynamic, where people can get together become a little bit vulnerable and practice applying biblical truth. That is really what the foundation of a small group is all about. Where we can be vulnerable enough to live out the truth together..."

I am a HUGE advocate for small groups as I believe it is impossible consistently to live out the truth on our own. I'm in the process of reading our second required reading called Authentic Spiritual Mentoring. I obviously agree with Kreider when he proclaims that we all need to be mentoring younger believers. And there are times when this is taking place in a one-on-one setting. But overall, I do not believe a person can fully grow in spiritual maturity without being involved in a small group. Nor do I think a mentor or church leader can fully develop their pastoral skills and mentoring skills without their regular involvement in a small group as well.

I have been leading and facilitating a small group for men over the last 8 years. The conversations and relationships I've developed in that group have forever changed the way I approach life. I cannot see myself trying to life the Christian life without being connected to other men on a regular basis. I will always be involved in a small group.

Dr. Dave, I was also very inspired to hear about the small group in your home that involves your children. I have little ones (four daughters ages 4-9). Right now I only meet privately with men and my wife has a couple smalls groups that she meets with. but after watching this, I would love to find a few families to share life with where we can incorporate moments of family worship and prayer.

Thanks for the inspiration Dr. Dave. Great lesson my friend.

Mike

I just read this article on small groups and watched the training video on Youtube....To quote Dr. Dave from the video, "Don't ever underestimate the power and necessity for a group dynamic, where people can get together become a little bit vulnerable and practice applying biblical truth. That is really what the foundation of a small group is all about. Where we can be vulnerable enough to live out the truth together..." I am a HUGE advocate for small groups as I believe it is impossible consistently to live out the truth on our own. I'm in the process of reading our second required reading called Authentic Spiritual Mentoring. I obviously agree with Kreider when he proclaims that we all need to be mentoring younger believers. And there are times when this is taking place in a one-on-one setting. But overall, I do not believe a person can fully grow in spiritual maturity without being involved in a small group. Nor do I think a mentor or church leader can fully develop their pastoral skills and mentoring skills without their regular involvement in a small group as well. I have been leading and facilitating a small group for men over the last 8 years. The conversations and relationships I've developed in that group have forever changed the way I approach life. I cannot see myself trying to life the Christian life without being connected to other men on a regular basis. I will always be involved in a small group. Dr. Dave, I was also very inspired to hear about the small group in your home that involves your children. I have little ones (four daughters ages 4-9). Right now I only meet privately with men and my wife has a couple smalls groups that she meets with. but after watching this, I would love to find a few families to share life with where we can incorporate moments of family worship and prayer. Thanks for the inspiration Dr. Dave. Great lesson my friend. Mike
David Herrington on Saturday, 26 July 2014 12:48

I favor small groups in the home. I feel the ambience is more like study was back in the days of the Apostles. I believe levels of trust and accountability grow strong from this family type environment. Plus, we like to have a meal together as part of the group which provides for great conversations and great food. Spiritual and physical nourishment!

I favor small groups in the home. I feel the ambience is more like study was back in the days of the Apostles. I believe levels of trust and accountability grow strong from this family type environment. Plus, we like to have a meal together as part of the group which provides for great conversations and great food. Spiritual and physical nourishment!
Pastor Dave Smuin on Thursday, 26 September 2013 19:09

I couldn't agree more with most of the comments, in fact, I came to faith as a member of a small group in southern NJ. The care and faith demonstrated by the men who were my mentors at the time, I am certain, was his way to woo me home. After we moved to Orlando, I began to seek out another small group, but ran in to "exclusivity" thing and ended up starting my own group! That a wonderful experience and I have many friends that are still connected in that group.

One of the most interesting developments for me recently was sensing the important of convening small groups focused around discernment issues in my faith Journey. When I had had to make some tough decision or was struggling with something I have recently turned to assembling several of people who I respect and know will be honest and truly seek the best for me. I found out that a few Christian traditions, for example the Quakers, have this kind of small group a a normal part of their practice of faith.

I think that many "large traditional church models" fail to recognize the opportunity to revitalize their church structures and standing committees into small groups. I have been an advocate of having boards or trustees, or finance or other committees of a church spend time in caring and sharing, and have inter meeting prayer partners and fellowship along with their "business: meetings so to speak. A lot of spiritual insight can be brought into those meeting by people who have gotten to live a life of faith together rather than just meet once a month or so.

Finally, and the re son that I had to miss the live session is that I was involved in a weekend long ministry initiative that I conduct in a Prison setting. This ministry focuses on the small group as its major accomplishment. Through the creation of Christian community within the prison a powerful tool for both evangelism and discipleship formation is made. Yes, the one on one and even the group efforts are very important, but getting groups of residents to regularly pray for each other around regular meetings where there is caring, sharing and study time has often been the make or break point for men who have turned their time from "hard" time to more safe and peaceful life in confinement. Eventually they gain trust in their fellow group members and can develop amazing levels of accountability for and with each other. In addition, they are more likely to take that skill and experience with them in to the free world, where their chances of staying out of prison are enhanced by understanding the power of small group.

I couldn't agree more with most of the comments, in fact, I came to faith as a member of a small group in southern NJ. The care and faith demonstrated by the men who were my mentors at the time, I am certain, was his way to woo me home. After we moved to Orlando, I began to seek out another small group, but ran in to "exclusivity" thing and ended up starting my own group! That a wonderful experience and I have many friends that are still connected in that group. One of the most interesting developments for me recently was sensing the important of convening small groups focused around discernment issues in my faith Journey. When I had had to make some tough decision or was struggling with something I have recently turned to assembling several of people who I respect and know will be honest and truly seek the best for me. I found out that a few Christian traditions, for example the Quakers, have this kind of small group a a normal part of their practice of faith. I think that many "large traditional church models" fail to recognize the opportunity to revitalize their church structures and standing committees into small groups. I have been an advocate of having boards or trustees, or finance or other committees of a church spend time in caring and sharing, and have inter meeting prayer partners and fellowship along with their "business: meetings so to speak. A lot of spiritual insight can be brought into those meeting by people who have gotten to live a life of faith together rather than just meet once a month or so. Finally, and the re son that I had to miss the live session is that I was involved in a weekend long ministry initiative that I conduct in a Prison setting. This ministry focuses on the small group as its major accomplishment. Through the creation of Christian community within the prison a powerful tool for both evangelism and discipleship formation is made. Yes, the one on one and even the group efforts are very important, but getting groups of residents to regularly pray for each other around regular meetings where there is caring, sharing and study time has often been the make or break point for men who have turned their time from "hard" time to more safe and peaceful life in confinement. Eventually they gain trust in their fellow group members and can develop amazing levels of accountability for and with each other. In addition, they are more likely to take that skill and experience with them in to the free world, where their chances of staying out of prison are enhanced by understanding the power of small group.
Pastor Dave Smuin on Monday, 23 September 2013 21:47

The best thing about small groups is the opportunity to get to know one another more personally and deeply. However, that depends on the willingness of the members to be open and vulnerable with one another. I've found that when a group is closed and "safe", it often helps if even one member can begin to be more open, sharing a personal struggle, for example, rather than sticking to "safe" prayer requests like Aunt Hazel's tonsillitis.

The best thing about small groups is the opportunity to get to know one another more personally and deeply. However, that depends on the willingness of the members to be open and vulnerable with one another. I've found that when a group is closed and "safe", it often helps if even one member can begin to be more open, sharing a personal struggle, for example, rather than sticking to "safe" prayer requests like Aunt Hazel's tonsillitis.
Pastor Dave Smuin on Friday, 20 September 2013 11:33

I don't know if there is anything that connects women more than getting together and talking about the Lord. Some of my closest friendships started in a small group, and although in healthy ways we have broken off into other small groups and the younger ladies have taken their turn at hosing and leading their own groups; the strength and affection of our original group is still there and we can call upon each other for counsel and comfort at anytime. Women, as emotional beings, need a lot of validation and support and a small group with positive, wise women can be the most influential thing to happen to a non/new believer!!

I don't know if there is anything that connects women more than getting together and talking about the Lord. Some of my closest friendships started in a small group, and although in healthy ways we have broken off into other small groups and the younger ladies have taken their turn at hosing and leading their own groups; the strength and affection of our original group is still there and we can call upon each other for counsel and comfort at anytime. Women, as emotional beings, need a lot of validation and support and a small group with positive, wise women can be the most influential thing to happen to a non/new believer!!
Pastor Dave Smuin on Friday, 20 September 2013 01:54

Small groups are great places to really experience the family of Christ through developing relationships with sisters and brothers. Small groups were modeled by Jesus as a way to be able to really love one another more intimately and therefore show the importance of each individual member in the body of Christ. As small groups join together to make a larger group they provide the sinew that holds the body together. A place to belong, and learn about Abba Fathers love for His children and a great place to bring non believers to see how the body truly works together for the good of those who are in Him.

Small groups are great places to really experience the family of Christ through developing relationships with sisters and brothers. Small groups were modeled by Jesus as a way to be able to really love one another more intimately and therefore show the importance of each individual member in the body of Christ. As small groups join together to make a larger group they provide the sinew that holds the body together. A place to belong, and learn about Abba Fathers love for His children and a great place to bring non believers to see how the body truly works together for the good of those who are in Him.
Guest - LindaDeLong on Friday, 20 September 2013 00:22

My husband and I had the privilege of hosting a small group in our home for 9 and 1/2 years. We experienced great fellowship; shared a meal, and bible study. Friendships were formed and our fellowship with Christ was enhanced by the participation of the members of our small group. As hosts, we were so blessed to be chosen by God to lead this group.

My husband and I had the privilege of hosting a small group in our home for 9 and 1/2 years. We experienced great fellowship; shared a meal, and bible study. Friendships were formed and our fellowship with Christ was enhanced by the participation of the members of our small group. As hosts, we were so blessed to be chosen by God to lead this group.
Guest - Ron on Thursday, 19 September 2013 21:58

I love small groups for their intimacy. We get the idea of the first church meeting together, eating and praying for one another. It is the grass roots movement that transforms the church into an organic living organism. The growth I have seen in myself and others is very apparent and life changing as we learn from each other. Great blog... In Him.

I love small groups for their intimacy. We get the idea of the first church meeting together, eating and praying for one another. It is the grass roots movement that transforms the church into an organic living organism. The growth I have seen in myself and others is very apparent and life changing as we learn from each other. Great blog... In Him.
Pastor Dave Smuin on Thursday, 19 September 2013 05:45

There is no doubt that small groups can be and often are a place where believers can grow, take risks in a safe environment, feel connected and provide a format to work through life's issues with others that love the Lord. My husband and I have led small groups for many years and while the above positive aspects do exist, we have also found the challenges associated with small groups are very real and some often call for intense problem solving. Some of the challenges we faced were drawing less talkative and sensitive members into discussions, the group growing too big to allow for vulnerability in sharing, those that insisted on dominating disucussions, and varied spiritual growth levels and/or age differences. All of these factors can lead to troubled waters that need navigating or at a minimum they cause the leaders to seek effective solutions. However, I really do believe there is still no substitute for the growth, intimacy, bonding and one-on-one discipleship that can take place in such a unique setting! So.... regardless of the challenges, I am a big fan of small groups!

There is no doubt that small groups can be and often are a place where believers can grow, take risks in a safe environment, feel connected and provide a format to work through life's issues with others that love the Lord. My husband and I have led small groups for many years and while the above positive aspects do exist, we have also found the challenges associated with small groups are very real and some often call for intense problem solving. Some of the challenges we faced were drawing less talkative and sensitive members into discussions, the group growing too big to allow for vulnerability in sharing, those that insisted on dominating disucussions, and varied spiritual growth levels and/or age differences. All of these factors can lead to troubled waters that need navigating or at a minimum they cause the leaders to seek effective solutions. However, I really do believe there is still no substitute for the growth, intimacy, bonding and one-on-one discipleship that can take place in such a unique setting! So.... regardless of the challenges, I am a big fan of small groups!
Pastor Dave Smuin on Thursday, 19 September 2013 20:03

Yes, there are some challenges that arise in small group ministry. When handled correctly these challenges become growth points. Let me give you an example. One time we had a new family come to our house church. They had small children and they were concerned that they would be disruptive. They were a little bit, but we encouraged them to keep the children in the group with us and our children. The result was witnessing these children learn how to pray out loud for people, they learned self control and parenting issues were modeled as they watched us teach our children in this environment. It is also common to have people who want to dominate or preach in their prayers. Situations like this are when we work with the individuals outside the main gathering to help them grow past this. Ministry is not always easy and small groups can put you right in the middle of a ministry event. Great points Karen.

Yes, there are some challenges that arise in small group ministry. When handled correctly these challenges become growth points. Let me give you an example. One time we had a new family come to our house church. They had small children and they were concerned that they would be disruptive. They were a little bit, but we encouraged them to keep the children in the group with us and our children. The result was witnessing these children learn how to pray out loud for people, they learned self control and parenting issues were modeled as they watched us teach our children in this environment. It is also common to have people who want to dominate or preach in their prayers. Situations like this are when we work with the individuals outside the main gathering to help them grow past this. Ministry is not always easy and small groups can put you right in the middle of a ministry event. Great points Karen.
Pastor Dave Smuin on Wednesday, 18 September 2013 19:47

Small groups are so very important. If we all just attended Sunday morning church and called that our Christian experience, we would be missing out. Small groups are where you really get to unpack the work and what it has for our lives. You get a chance to build relationships and then within those relationships you get better understand what this walk with Jesus really means. Walking it out with others is something great! Small groups are so beneficial that I think they should be called "life groups" .

Small groups are so very important. If we all just attended Sunday morning church and called that our Christian experience, we would be missing out. Small groups are where you really get to unpack the work and what it has for our lives. You get a chance to build relationships and then within those relationships you get better understand what this walk with Jesus really means. Walking it out with others is something great! Small groups are so beneficial that I think they should be called "life groups" .
Pastor Dave Smuin on Tuesday, 17 September 2013 01:59

I believe that small groups are one of the most powerful ways we connect in Christian community. It is how we become family to each other, how spur one another on to love and good works, how we learn from one another to follow Jesus faithfully and fully committed. Small groups can be places of healing for us. A small group can be one on one discipling, one on one bible reading, or groups of men, women, or mixed groups learning and growing together in community.

I believe that small groups are one of the most powerful ways we connect in Christian community. It is how we become family to each other, how spur one another on to love and good works, how we learn from one another to follow Jesus faithfully and fully committed. Small groups can be places of healing for us. A small group can be one on one discipling, one on one bible reading, or groups of men, women, or mixed groups learning and growing together in community.
Guest - Debra Kaplan on Friday, 13 September 2013 15:44

I agree small groups have served us well. A small group setting provides a safe place for personal growth on many levels. People want to be accepted, loved and encouraged. It is a great place to establish friendships but also a place to develop your spiritual gifts. Personally, I really enjoyed watching and encouraging people to move out, to take a risk and use the gifts that God has given them. The body working together! Love it!!!

I agree small groups have served us well. A small group setting provides a safe place for personal growth on many levels. People want to be accepted, loved and encouraged. It is a great place to establish friendships but also a place to develop your spiritual gifts. Personally, I really enjoyed watching and encouraging people to move out, to take a risk and use the gifts that God has given them. The body working together! Love it!!!
Pastor Dave Smuin on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 16:00

Thank you for featuring small groups! I have led many women's Bible study groups in my home, and enjoyed every minute of it. I learned the value of small groups several years ago when I came to realize that environment was where I connected with other Christians to form strong friendships. The closest friends I have today began in small groups.

God bless you!

Thank you for featuring small groups! I have led many women's Bible study groups in my home, and enjoyed every minute of it. I learned the value of small groups several years ago when I came to realize that environment was where I connected with other Christians to form strong friendships. The closest friends I have today began in small groups. God bless you!
Pastor Dave Smuin on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 19:07

Yes, I agree. The shared experiences in a small group have led to many long term friendships.

Yes, I agree. The shared experiences in a small group have led to many long term friendships.
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