I mentioned on Sunday that we envision some additional small groups starting up at Trissels this Fall. Here’s a brief description of small groups.
Small groups are the New Testament pattern. Jesus’ earthly ministry involved much time with a small group of twelve disciples (Mark 3:14; 6:7; 9:35; etc.) and an even smaller circle of three persons (Mark 5:37; 9:2; 14:33). The early church met both in large corporate worship and in smaller groups in homes (Acts 2:41-46). This pattern continued (Acts 4:4; 5:42; 12:12; 20:20; Rom. 16:5; Col. 4:15).
Sunday mornings, the one hour in the week when we all get together to interact, is the one time it’s difficult for us to obey the scriptural commands about interaction. In our large worship setting, we’re mainly only spectators, passive listeners; so how can we spur one another on to love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24), bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2), encourage one another and build each other up (1Thes. 5:11), confess our sins to one another and pray for each other (James 5:16)? We need a setting other than the typical Sunday service — like a small group! — to fully participate in those things.
A lot of important things can happen in small groups. We can build friendship and belonging, celebrate each other’s life milestones and accomplishments, pray with one another in hard times. We can debrief our lives together — talk about moments of temptation, anger, and fear — and help each other know and obey Christ. We can do something good together, like service projects or outreach. In the smaller setting more of us can “spread our wings” and try leadership and ministry roles and see gifts emerge and develop.
As another school year begins, we also anticipate several small-groups beginning in our congregation — groups of 6 to 12 persons banding together to walk with one another on their spiritual journey.
We’ll introduce the small-groups at our Sunday worship service at Highland Retreat on August 15. Group leaders will describe the particular focus or emphasis of their group and invite interested persons to contact them about participating.
Not all of you can or want to be in a small-group. But I see definite benefits to being involved both in the large group worship time on Sunday mornings and a small-group meeting during the week:
• Due to its smallness, the group gives members enough face time to talk about their lives: moments of temptation, anger, fear; situations of uncertainty over what God would have us do; opportunities to know and obey Christ.
• Due to its smallness, we can’t walk away from a fellow group member whose personality irritates us. What a great position to be in — a repeated opportunity to grow in patience, tolerance, and kindness! Grow in that area, and suddenly all of life is better! The group meetings also give us opportunity to let Christ’s words dwell in us as we speak into the lives of ones who irritate us and pray for them.
• Due to its smallness, each person in the group is able to gain experience in encouraging, praying, leading. Without small-groups, church ministry is by and large limited to what happens in the church building on Sundays and what the pastor is doing the rest of the week. But with small-groups, the pastor and the building are no longer bottlenecks; life and ministry can emerge and develop organically as the Spirit wills!
Pray for those who have agreed to be leaders. And pray about your involvement.