You grow bigger by getting smaller. It seems like a contradiction, doesn’t it? Yet many churches can testify to the immense value of small group ministries. The idea of gathering weekly to share struggles and concerns, to pray together, and to encourage one another is certainly different for many than the way we have traditionally experienced time together as a church, but many could argue this is a biblical model.
In March of this year, we will begin rolling out small group ministry at Slater Baptist! Many of us are excited, and we look forward to seeing how God uses this ministry to expand His kingdom. For many, however, this is very different, which leads to a question: where did this idea even come from?
There are several examples in the Bible of smaller groups meeting for encouragement and discipleship. One of the most significant is Acts 2:42 – 47. It reads:
42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47, NASB).
This passage highlights a few of the purposes of small groups. Just a few of these are:
- Devoting themselves to teaching (42) – the study of the Bible together is the primary purpose of our groups. We desire to grow together in love for Christ through our study of the Word together.
- Fellowship – We can be, if we aren’t careful, a culture that spends far more time alone than in community. But the Bible teaches us that God has created us not just as individuals, but that in saving individuals He has made a church, and we are a part of a big body (I Cor. 12:27). Spending time together talking about real things, real issues, and real concerns make a real difference.
- Breaking of bread and prayer – there is something about spending time together in a small group, meal or not, that reminds us that the Christian life should be lived joyfully with others. Additionally prayer, real, intentional prayer, is key for continue growth in our body, both spiritually and numerically. Small groups devoted to praying for one another and for the Gospel to spread in our community are essential to our continued ministry.
- Being known – these groups went from house to house. As we were talking about this the other night in our evening Bible Study time, one of the men in the group noted “it’s so important for me to be known by somebody. Like, really known.” And he is exactly right. We want to be known by somebody. Small groups give us that chance in a real and unique way.
- Evangelism – finally, as a result of these house groups in Acts, more and more people were receiving Christ as Savior. Small groups provide a unique atmosphere to bring in unchurched families to hear the Gospel in a unique way. I have personally seen many come to Christ, and many grow in Christ, as a result of small group ministries in the churches we have been involved in.
So, why small groups? Because, both in the testimony of the book of Acts, and the experience of many, many local churches (including the ones we have been a part of), little groups lead to big growth! And, ultimately, growth is what we are after. We desire to see others love Christ more. We desire to see people transformed by the power of the Gospel. And we think that these small groups are one biblical way to accomplish these things. I hope you will jump into a group!
For His glory,
P.S. – if you are interested in reading more about why small groups matter, there is another great article on Lifeway’s website about the value of small groups. You can read it by following this link: