This is what I have learned from being in a small group (and why I’ll never NOT be in one)…
My husband and I came to Island Christian Church 17 years ago. Right from the start, we heard about small groups here, then called “cell groups”. As new believers, we didn’t know what to expect, really. But once we joined, we were hooked. Since then, there hasn’t been a time that we haven’t been in a group. And now, as the Small Group Coordinator, it’s my job to promote groups, and help people plug in. Often, people say “Why should I join a group? What’s in it for me?”. Here’s what I tell them I’ve gained from being in a group, both as a group member and as a group leader:
- Real life examples of seeing Jesus at work in the lives of others. As we sit around our circle at Life Group and share about our struggles and our triumphs of the past week, we don’t see “messy” people. I see people, learning more about the Lord every day. And people willing to open up about what God’s doing in their life, even if it’s not always pretty.
- Everyone has something to offer. 1 Peter 4:10 says “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace”. In a small group, each member has an opportunity to minister to others–not just the leaders, but everyone. God has given each believer a Spiritual gift, and the optimal place to use that is a small group. As I often say in our Membership Seminar, chances are, one is rarely presented with the opportunity to exercise one’s gift in a Sunday service–unless you’re the pastor preaching from the pulpit! But in a small group, everyone has opportunities to use their gift, whether it be mercy, or shepherding, exhortation, or even administration. The Body of Christ is never more evident, more present, than in a small group.
- Your faith is personal, but it’s not private. I didn’t just make that up– I’ve heard it many times. When we share about our faith, our walk with Jesus, how he’s changed us from the inside out, we are sharing our ever-changing testimony. Others see how our faith is shaped by what we’ve experienced and what we’ve learned about God in our individual experiences. That, in turn, helps others to either deepen their faith, or for those maybe on the fence about their faith, see a little more clearly.
- Relationships are the key to staying involved in a church. A person (or family) is more likely to maintain their relationship with a church if they maintain relationships with the people in the church. When you value all the people and interactions that occur, you are bound to make church attendance and group attendance a priority. Said in a different way: “If you don’t show up, you’ll be missed!”.