I love small groups. Nothing in all of Christian education or discipleship approaches excites me more than small groups. I have been a part of many and have led many as well. I love to see a successful small group. One success indicator in small groups is the sense of community that develops among the group members. Members become committed to serving and supporting one another so each will grow in the Lord and in obedience to him.
Small group can be a discipline. Adele Ahlberg Calhoun wrote about small group as a discipline in Spiritual Disciplines Handbook. “Small groups intentionally connect people, regularly gathering them together to help one another grow in loving God and doing his will.” Small groups form for all sorts of purposes: Bible study groups, support groups, outreach groups, mission groups, ministry groups, prayer groups, book clubs, discipleship groups, to name only a few possibilities. All of these groups share something: helping the members know God and follow God.
Small groups also contain opportunities for the practice of other spiritual disciplines. Small groups develop and display hospitality. Small groups practice prayer in many different ways. Small group members come to display transparency. Small groups encourage giving and self-sacrifice. They experience community and fellowship as they grow together. The list of disciplines small groups can engage is almost limitless.
How can your group concentrate more on practicing small group as a discipline?
- Create a safe climate so members can share their lives without fear of embarrassment or rejection.
- Meet regularly. Most small groups need about 12-15 meetings to start forming community.
- Create a covenant. Make it a brief, simply community agreement that guides members’ responsibilities to one another and their behavior.
- Pray together.
- Build the group around the study of God’s Word.
- Minister to one another and together minister to others outside the group.
- Celebrate victories in the group.
- The best size for small groups is the between three and five people.
Small group is an exciting practice. We are created to experience community as God himself experiences community in the Trinity. As we practice small group, we open ourselves to God and each other, knowing that a shared life centered around God’s Word and guided by his Spirit will transform us into the image of Jesus Christ.
Scripture: Read Jesus’ promise in Matthew 18:20. How does this promise encourage you to practice small group?
Dig Deeper: Read Adele Ahlberg Calhoun’s Spiritual Disciplines Handbook.
Now It’s Your Turn: Have you ever had a meaningful experience in a small group? Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.