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Small GroupOf course, the short answer will be ‘No.’ Because, otherwise, there are many churches out there that are wasting their members’ time by asking them to join a small group. However, many of you of course will have many questions, concerns, or even objections.

“I am having my daily quiet time with God and I am doing ok. Why should I join a small group?”
“I don’t have time. I am already busy as it is now. How can I afford putting an extra activity in my weekly schedule?”
“I already have a group of people I meet up regularly. I don’t see how being around a group of church people will help me in any way in my life.”
“I am not a Christian, and I don’t understand anything about the Bible. So, I think it is not for me.”
“Small group is only for those who need support. I think I am doing ok. God is helping me with my everyday life.”
OR simply… “What is small group? I have (or have not) heard about it, and I don’t know anything about it.”

I hear you, and I am hoping to offer you some answers to help you (and myself) understand better about small group and its importance to our life. Well, please allow me to tackle the last question first. I do hope that I will tackle the other questions over the next few posts (hopefully not too many). I also hope that this series will help small group leaders to lead their small group better.

So, what is a small group?

Many churches use the term ‘Small Group’, some use ‘Cell Group’, while some others use ‘Home Group’, ‘Life Group’, ‘Fellowship Group’, ‘Community Group’, or the like. There are reasons, of course, why different churches use different terms, each to their own specific purposes according to their church’s vision or goals. However, they have one thing in common (or at least, I think they should). For the purpose of this post, I will use the term ‘Small Group.’

Small Group is basically a group of people who have decided to meet up with one another regularly in a group setting to talk, discuss, chat, and/or to work toward a common goal. In Christian context, because the goal of Christian life is maturity in Christ, Small Group is thus a group of people who have decided to meet up regularly to help each other to grow to become mature Christians. Am I saying, then, that Small Group is only for Christians? Not at all. If you are not a Christian, you are still encouraged to join a small group at a church. I will talk about this later. But to say the least, if you are not a Christian, you should join a small group at the church that you visit in order to learn more about God, Jesus, and Christianity, to know what Christians do in their day to day lives, and to know how Jesus has anything to do with their lives. Learning about God from the Sunday preaching is good. However, seeing how Christians live as God’s people give you an even better picture of what faith and christianity is about.

For now, let us see what a group of people do in a small group.

Typically, in a small group meeting, the group members will study the Bible. Why? Because as Christians, we can only grow to maturity when we know more about God, what He has done, what He continues to do, and what He expects from us. Christian maturity is about knowing God and believing in Him more and more in order that one lives out one’s life and responds to circumstances around him/her according to what God wants him/her to. We can only do that when we regularly read and study the Bible together. As we read and study the Bible together, we apply the Bible to ourselves individually and corporately. We learn how each of us (or us together) should trust and obey God in light of what we read, and we encourage each other to obey God and keep one another accountable in that area.

Then, in a small group meeting, the group members also share their lives with one another. They talk about what have been happening in their lives. They laugh with one another and they bear each other’s burden. The purpose of this so-called ‘sharing’ time is not just so that we know what each other is doing during the week. The purpose, however, must be deeper than that. We want to know what each other is doing AND we want to know how they respond to their daily circumstances AND therefore, we want to know how we can encourage them to live out their faith in those circumstances. Furthermore, we want to know how we can love each other genuinely, practically, and tangibly as Jesus has commanded us to.

It is good for me to know that John is having a difficult week at work. However, it is even better for the group to know how to encourage John to continue to live out his Christian conviction at work in the midst of what he is going through. It is also necessary for the group to know what it means to be a Christian in the workplace.
It is good for me to know that Lucy has just given birth to her second child. Indeed, it is a cause for celebration for the group. However, it is even better for the group to encourage her on how to be a godly mother and to provide practical help as an expression of our love to her.
It is good for me to know that Leslie just went for holiday in Europe. However, it is even better for the group to hear how his recent trip has impacted him spiritually.

Or course we don’t want to over-spiritualize things. However, we must know that we are meeting for the purpose of growing together spiritually, not for the purpose of being busybodies. A small group should have an atmosphere where group members confess their sins and weaknesses to each other openly, they speak the Word of God to each other humbly, and they encourage each other to continue living for God courageously.

Once we study the Bible and share lives together, we then pray with and for one another. We know that in the end, as Christians, God is in control, God is the one who strengthens us, and we rely on Him in our everyday life. We pray with one another because we have been brought together in Christ, and we pray for one another because we love one another. We lift up each other’s burden to God, and we pray for each other’s upcoming week/fortnight/month so we will live our lives pleasing to God in every aspect.

There are many other things that a group of people can do in a small group: serving together, going on a mission together, helping the poor together, etc. However, essentially, a small group must be a place where Christians are spurred on to grow together. A small group must be a place where Christians are not afraid to confess their sins to and with and before one another. A small group must be a place where Christians receive encouragement to continue to put their trust, identity, and security in God, and consequently, to obey God. A small group must be a place where Christians love one another tangibly. Other things will flow out naturally from this.

Now that we clear up a bit what a small group is, it’s time now to perhaps answer some of your questions or concerns or objections about small group. The first question to tackle would be this:

“I am having my daily quiet time with God and I am doing ok. Why should I join a small group?” 

Due to space, I will tackle it in the next post.

In the mean time, what else do you think a small group should do?

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