About Small Groups
Why Do We Have Small Groups? What Are We Trying to Accomplish?
By  Rick Diefenderfer

One of the big difficulties in small group ministry is getting so wrapped up in the "program" of the small group ministry that 
we forget why we are doing small groups in the first place! 

12 reasons for doing small groups.

  1. Everything in life revolves around relationships -- everything. The most important relationship is a personal relationship with our heavenly Father through His Son Jesus Christ -- a vertical relationship. But let us not be so heavenly high that we are of no earthly good. Horizontal relationships bring balance in this life. And the best horizontal relationships are covenant commitments to live with others, to become connected with others in a basic Christian community. 
  2. A church should be large enough to celebrate while remaining small enough to care
  3. In Acts 20:20, Paul's vision was "to preach the message in public (large-group worship) and to teach the message from house to house (small-group community)" -- a 20/20 vision for the church. 
  4. Our church's mission: "to lead people into a growing relationship with God, each other and unbelievers, through Jesus Christ, into basic Christian community," is gleaned from both the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Both emphasize a balance of vertical and horizontal relationship
  5. In Acts 2:41-47, we read that the early Christians were involved in nine basic activities. They: (1) believed in Jesus Christ, (2) were baptized, (3) were added to the group, (4) spent their time in learning, (5) took part in the fellowship, (6) shared their possessions, (7) prayed together, (8) met regularly as a group to worship, and (9) regularly added new believers to the group. 
  6. In his book, The Bride -- Renewing Our Passion For The Church, Charles Swindoll identifies four major objectives in these nine basic activities; Worship, Instruction, Fellowship, and Expressions of our faith in Jesus Christ. (pp. 47-63). 
  7. Under the subheading, "Reasons We Embrace These Objectives" (p. 44) Swindoll writes, 

  8. "What a scene! Here in ancient Jerusalem was a group of believers whose worship was spontaneous, whose instruction was substantial, whose fellowship was genuine, and whose expressions were compassionate. No wonder so many new folks were attracted! It is no surprise to me that the Lord added to their number day after day."
    Swindoll adds, "When we embrace these objectives, several benefits come our way. Our eyes will get off ourselves and unto the Lord. Our own petty differences are minimized, which deepens the unity of the relationship. And all this, when kept in balance, creates such a magnetism that the church becomes irresistible. And then? Well, then we start becoming what the church was originally designed to be -- irresistible!"
    Why have small groups? So the church can once again become an irresistible Christian community where a person can: love and be loved, know and be known, serve and be served, and celebrate and be celebrated.
  9. In Acts 20:20; 2:41-47; and throughout Scripture we discover large-group worship wed to small-group communities. The large-group worship is the time to focus on our personal relationship with God. This is also the time to receive biblical instruction. The experience of large-group worship helps fulfill the first of the Great Commandment: "Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" (Matt. 22:37). 
  10. The gathered large-group then becomes scattered small-groups of people meeting in the homes of church members one evening each week. The focus of small-group community is to discuss and make application of the teaching of the previous week's message and also to become connected (fellowship) with one another as we express our faith in Jesus Christ through edification and lifestyle evangelism. Fellowship and expression of our faith in Jesus Christ is the focus of small-group community. Small groups of people meet throughout the community in the homes of members of the church who are willing and able to open their hearts and homes to each other and to unbelievers. In this setting people establish relationships of accountability and openness with one another. True fellowship means that we care about and therefore care for one another. And, in our expression of our faith in Jesus Christ, the church reveals that it is reaching out to one another and also to unbelievers as edificatio n and lifestyle evangelism spring up naturally. The experience of small-group community helps to fulfill the second part of the Great Commandment: "Thou shalt love your neighbor as thyself" (Matt. 22:39). 
  11. It's hard to form "relationships" and come into "community" when people sit in rows looking at the back of each other's heads on Sunday mornings. 
  12. I recently heard that when people are asked why they attend many of the fastest growing churches in America, the number one reason given is so "they can remain anonymous." How very strange! The number one reason for the fastest growing churches in America is "anonymity" when the number one need in every person's life is the need for meaningful "relationships." 
  13. "Relationships," "community" -- basic Christian community -- involves a covenant commitment to one another, which results from total surrender to Jesus Christ, a very hard concept for most Americans to grasp. 

The Bride -- Renewing Our Passion for the Church, formerly titled Rise & Shine; Charles R. Swindoll; Zondervan Publishing House; Grand Rapids, Michigan; 1994; ISBN 0-310-20229-9.
Rick Diefenderfer is a bivocational cell church planter / pastor for the City-Wide Christian Cell Church of Arlington, Texas.

He can be contacted at:

Celebrated Ministries
PO Box 473
Crowley, Texas 76036