Making friends and disciples in community
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Small groups allow relationship building. Like iron sharpening iron (Prov. 27.17), the relationships we form within our small groups can become a tool for God to use in transformation of our character. Dr. Bilezikian writes: "It is in small groups that people can get close enough to know each other, to care and share, to challenge and support, to confide and confess, to forgive and be forgiven, to laugh and weep together, to be accountable to each other, to watch over each other, and to grow together. Personal growth does not happen in isolation. It is the result of interactive relationships. Small groups are God's gift to foster changes in character and spiritual growth."
Small groups provide opportunity for evangelistic outreach. Steve Greene: "Come over to my house" is a much easier invitation than "come with me to church." Off-campus small groups become increasingly more important as the transition to a post-Christian culture accelerates. While there certainly was a time when an invitation to "come with me to church" was welcomed and even expected, those days are gone. What remains? "Come over...come over to my house."
Life change happens best in small groups. We might have a killer weekend worship service with powerful teaching and inspiring worship, but we also need to understand that the optimal environment for life-change is a small group, because life change happens best in circles, not rows.
Small groups make churches more personal. With our church averaging around 600 on Sunday mornings, it's easy for a person to slip into a back row and then leave without sharing life with a person. Yes, it's true that people with a certain type of personality still prefer to remain anonymous, but the research is in. The desire to find a few good friends is on the rise, and loneliness is increasing.
Small groups provide the best opportunity for "one-anothering." If you want to be known for the way you love one another, you need to emphasize being part of a small group. The idea that I can receive or give the kind of personal care commanded in the one-another passages while isolating myself from others isn't anchored in reality. God never intended for us to live the Christian life alone. How can we apply the dozens of "one another" commands unless we are in intentional, close relationships with each other? God calls us to love, not in an abstract or superficial way, but in a deep, face-to-face, life-on-life, transformative way. This is challenging and messy, but so worth it.
Small groups make it possible for more people to be cared for during the week. Genuine care is demonstrated when needs are known without a call to the church office. A network of small groups provides an excellent delivery system for that kind of care.
Q/A is better facilitated in small groups. Dialogue is one of the key ingredients of life change. If every spiritual experience I have is about listening and one-way communication, then I'm going to miss one of the most important developmental aspects of a growing faith.
Most small groups meet weekly on Sunday evenings, with a handful meeting every other week or on other evenings . To connect to a small group that fits, contact Ben Crabtree, our Pastor of Outreach and Discipleship.