Saturday, December 09, 2017

Making Small Groups Ministry Work

Each time I run our small groups ministry seminar Shutting The Back Door I ask the audience this question:
"What is the single most important thing to keep in mind when leading your group?"
Here are just a few of the answers I receive:
*Awesome bible studies
*Discipleship
*Christian accountability
*Experiencing Christ together
*Good leadership
*Pastoral ministry; shepherding
*Koinonia
*Spiritual growth
Now don't get me wrong - these are major ingredients. In fact, I believe these are the most important aspects of cell groups, as you will see if you take a few moments to look around my site. But that's not what I was asking. Let's look at the question once more:
"What is the single most important thing to keep in mind when leading your group?"
My answer is this:
"The key principle to keep in focus is that small groups offer a completely different way of 'doing church' compared to a congregational setting."
Now, of course, we need both formats. It's not either/or, but both/and. The point is that when we meet in small groups we should exploit the advantages they offer to the full.
If they become just a re-run of Sunday's congregational meeting we have missed the point. Sure, we do similar things to some extent, like fellowshipping, bible teaching, worship, prayer, etc. but there are two main differences:
1) We do them in a completely differently way. The style presented in a congregational meeting is mainly that those present are spectators. Whereas the emphasis in a cell group is that everyone gets to become a participator. This can best be summed up in the New Testament recurring phrase "one another". Every believer present is a recipient of the grace of God and therefore has something to share with the rest of the group. The body edifies itself in love (Eph.4:16).
2) We also do things in groups which do not happen in a congregational setting. For example, discipleship. Christian small groups are the ideal setting for making disciples.
Unfortunately, some today have opted for one aspect of church life against the other. On the one hand you have those who have no place for cell groups in their church. At the other end of the scale there are those who see no value in congregational meetings and believe everything is done in small groups.
The New Testament clearly recognizes the need for both. In the book of Acts we often come across the two formats of church life in terms such as "in the temple" and "from house to house" (e.g. Acts 2:46&47; 5:42; 20:20).
I once had a man in my church who always wanted to preach. The problem is that with other pastors and me on staff, and visiting speakers from time to time, we had enough preachers. So, he became frustrated. Then I made the mistake of giving him a home group, thinking this would keep him happy. I have since learned that groups are not designed for frustrated preachers. All he wanted was a group of people who would sit and listen to him preach at them. The result? A re-run of Sunday's congregational meeting - one participator and a dozen spectators.
Let me spell this out one more time:
"The key principle to keep in focus is that small groups offer a completely different way of 'doing church' compared to a congregational setting."
Watching people's lives being impacted as God's grace flows from person to person is an amazing thing. Let's make sure it happens! And let's see how we can help facilitate it....

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/3944376

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