Do We Have Small Groups? What Are We Trying to Accomplish?
of the big difficulties in small group ministry is getting so wrapped up
in the "program" of the small group ministry that
forget why we are doing small groups in the first place!
for doing small groups.
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
should be large enough to celebrate while remaining small enough to
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.
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.
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.
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).
the subheading, "Reasons We Embrace These Objectives" (p. 44) Swindoll
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."
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!"
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.
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"
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).
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.
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."
"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.
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.
Diefenderfer is a bivocational cell church planter / pastor for the City-Wide
Christian Cell Church of Arlington, Texas.
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