Thursday, September 07, 2006

FAQ: Why do you do small groups?

We do small groups because we have found that they are the most effective way to do discipleship within the context of our culture.

This may be a surprise, but small groups are not sacred to me. I do not hold to the view that small groups (or a particular small group model) are the only way to Biblically disciple others. What I care about most is that people grow in their relationship with Christ, transform their lives to look more and more like him, and grow in their relationship with other people. Small groups just seem to me to be the best way to facilitate that process.

I believe there are five primary ways that people grow in their faith:

Relational- people grow in their relationship with Christ as they grow in relationship with others and are influenced by those relationships.

Experiential- people grow in their relationship with Christ when they are immersed in an experience with him that propels them in some area of their faith formation.

Intellectual- people grow in their relationship with Christ as they develop the mind of Christ through the reading, study, meditation, and memorization of Scripture.

Personal- people grow in their relationship with Christ as they incorporate and practice spiritual disciplines into the context of their everyday lives.

Incarnational- people grow in their relationship with Christ as they seek to follow his model of servant leadership and become his hands and feet in sacrificial service to those around them.

Every person tends to gravitate towards one or two of those five growth patterns, and small groups offer opportunities for all five types of growth.

Here are some of the more practical reasons we do small groups:

Organization, The Jethro Principle (Exodus 18:21-26)

v. 21 "But find some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as judges over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten."
We do small groups because it establishes a structure that allows for continued church growth and the effective pastoring of people.

Relationship, The Acts Community (Acts 2:43-47)

v. 46 "They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord's Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity."
We do small groups because we believe they provide an environment for true Christian community to develop through the intentional sharing of our lives with others.

Discipleship and Ministry (2 Timothy 2:2)

2 Timothy 2:2 "You have heard me teach many things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Teach these great truths to trustworthy people who are able to pass them along to others."
We do small groups because we feel that discipleship and ministry are ultimately community activities.

Many churches run into problems because they think small group ministry is the “thing to do,” but they have never given any significant thought to why they were doing them. Why small groups? is a critical question to ask and answer before implementing any sort of small group model. It’s imperative to put structures in place and create environments that move people forward in their faith. Otherwise, it’s just one more church program.

For more reading on this particular topic, see the following resources:

Building a Church of Small Groups (Bill Donahue and Russ Robinson)

Creating Community (Andy Stanley and Bill Willits)

Growing True Disciples (George Barna)

Purpose Driven Life (Rick Warren)

The Second Reformation (William A. Beckham)


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