If you attend the church where I pastor for very long, you will hear me say, “Everyone needs to be in a small group.” I’ve been making that statement for over thirty years, and I believe it as much now as I did the first time I said it. Here are a few reasons that convince me of this need.
First, a small group is an ideal place for care! Caring for people’s needs happens much better in a small group than in a large group. Becoming familiar with everyone’s struggles and needs in a worship service full of hundreds of people is challenging. But in a small group, sharing and accountability is much more feasible. The small group environment of six to twelve people is the perfect environment to receive and provide quality care.
Secondly, a small group is an ideal place for growth! You can certainly learn in a large group gathering, but the best growth happens in a small group context. The teacher-pupil ratio is much smaller in a small group, providing a much better learning environment.
Jesus used the small group environment to train his disciples because he wanted up close and personal interaction and quality time to teach them. Jesus knew growth happens much better in a small group of twelve than in a large group of five thousand.
Third, the small group is the ideal place for character transformation! Jesus used the small group as a place to shape the character of his disciples. His disciples learned love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control in the small group.
Living in the context of close relationships can help allow the Holy Spirit to change a person and help them become more like Christ.
Finally, a small group is the ideal place to drive the mission! The small group is a vital part of the mission of making disciples. When Jesus set out to make fully trained disciples, he used the small group environment as a critical part of the overall process. The small group was very strategic for Jesus’ method of disciple-making.
The small group was never the “end” goal for Jesus. The small group was a means to the end. Jesus used the small group to connect with his potential disciples, train them, and then send them out to start other small groups of disciples.
In the church where I pastor, we have several sorts of small groups. We have a group designed for outreach, one for care and growth, one for deeper discipleship, and one for recovery. We use these groups to help each person take the next step in their faith journey. It is the goal, however, that each person eventually participates in a discipleship group, which we call an Impact Group. The Impact Group is where we intentionally teach the character and conduct of Christ. This group is also the place where we focus on making fully-trained disciples.
If we can help you learn more about how small groups work in a disciple-making church, feel free to connect with us and let us know how we can help. Impact Discipleship Ministries exists to inspire people and churches to be and build disciples of Jesus Christ. We can be reached at impactdisciples.com/contact.