We’ve been talking a lot about small groups recently in church and perhaps you’ve asked yourself this question. The purpose of this article is not to give you a list of reasons why you should join a small group! We are all inundated with ‘shoulds’ – “I should…exercise more / eat better/ get more sleep / spend more time with my family / pray more / read my Bible more…” Fill in the blank with your own ‘should’. These are all good ‘shoulds’ and I don’t want to add another one to your already busy, overworked schedule. My hope is that, by the end of this article, you won’t simply be asking yourself “should I join a small group?”, but rather saying “I SHOULD join a small group”!
Did you know that there are 59 “one another” statements in the New Testament? Some occur more than once, but I still counted over 30 exhortations in scripture to actually “do” something towards another person. Many of these commands cannot be fulfilled in a large group setting. For example, one command is to bear one another’s burdens. A large group is not conducive to this. How can we bear one another’s burdens sitting, all facing forwards, in rows on a Sunday? I recently read two quotes from Andy Stanley – lead pastor of North Point Community Church in GA: “When everyone is sitting in rows…you can’t do any one anothers” and, in reference to the New Testament church, “The primary activity of the church was one-anothering one another”.
Small groups are the perfect place to practice these “one anothers”. Jesus modeled the intimacy of a small group when he chose twelve men to disciple and pour Himself into. They were by no means perfect men who had it all together. They certainly didn’t have all the answers! They doubted; they questioned; they didn’t always ‘get it’; they came from different backgrounds – but, together, they were a biblical model of a small group. Discipleship was of paramount importance to Jesus and I think this is why the small group model worked. It was within this group that He could disciple more effectively. Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples,” (John 13:35). Our small groups, or LIFE groups as we call them here at ICC, are places where we can reach this level of togetherness. The early church grew in homes where 15-20 people “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…” When the Apostle Paul wrote to the house church in Colossae, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16) he wanted the house church believers to encourage one another, share transparently, and rejoice in God’s goodness. The members enjoyed each other’s company, laughed together, and drew near to Jesus all while being part of a small community.
We cannot enjoy this level of intimacy on a Sunday. It is very important to gather together and worship corporately, but how much of yourself are you investing if this is all you do? I admit to days when it’s been easy to come to church to worship as part of the crowd, listen to the Word preached, talk ‘small talk’ with a few people after service and then leave. However, I need (and want) more than this. This is why I am part of a LIFE group.
I have been involved in small groups for over 20 years. No group has been the same – they are made up of people with different personalities, at various stages of life, etc. The one commonality is that when we share life’s trials and triumphs with others we learn to look beyond ourselves. Getting together regularly with a small group of believers to encourage one another and build each other up in our faith can be life-changing. Life is short, and it’s lonely when it’s lived without community.
So, should you join a small group? Absolutely! I hope you’ll take some time to visit our Groups page to find out more.
Suzie Nicolosi | Small Groups Coordinator