Ponder this thought-provoking quote on the importance of local church small groups:
“Let’s walk through an exercise. Name 10 sermons you’ve heard in your life that have shaped you. I doubt you could name ten. I can remember just a couple of sermons that impacted me in life-altering ways. In the moment, I walk out of so many sermons thinking, ‘Wow! That was amazing!’ but then I don’t apply the truth I’ve heard. Or I just simply forget it by the time my stomach growls for a Sunday afternoon lunch.
Now name 10 people who have invested in your life. Much easier , wasn’t it? It’s easier because people are much more memorable than ideas. And people help us contextualize truth, rather than keeping truth at an intellectual arm’s-length. When we sit in an auditorium and listen to a preacher proclaim truth, it’s easy to think, ‘I know someone who needs to hear this.’ Or, ‘That’s a strong truth’ without ever applying it. Small groups are vital to the health of a local church.
I love Sunday morning corporate worship. It energizes me to worship with other believers, and be challenged by good, solid preaching. But corporate gatherings alone will dry me up, spiritually. I need small group life. The times in my life when I was most alive spiritually have been the times when I was concurrently living life in honest, transparent community, not hiding behind a mask. Which is all-too-easy to do when you’re in a corporate setting . Hiding is much tougher when you’re living life with others in closer proximity.”
Here are vital gaps that the small group “circle” fills:
1. It is easy to hide in a large group.
2. It is easy to be passive during a sermon.
3. There is little to no accountability in corporate worship.
4. We are prone to think we matter too little in a large group.
5. We are prone to think we matter too much in corporate worship.
6. We tend to think, “They need to hear this” during preaching.
7. We tend to think, “This is only for me” during preaching.
8. We demonstrate respect by keeping quiet while pastor is preaching.
9. Conviction can go unchecked in corporate service.
10. Specific, in-the-moment prayer requests are rarely mentioned in the auditorium.
The spirit of this article is not to diminish the pulpit ministry; the emphasis is on specific, biblical commands that can only be fulfilled in the more intimate setting initiated by the leadership of your church. Are you willing to fully engage in the small group ministry of your local church? Whether it is called “Sunday School, Connection Groups, Life Stages, Growth Groups, Etc.,” you must plug into not only the top-down instruction of pastors but also the parallel influence of your peers.
Ephesians 4:15-16 “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
* Portions quoted/paraphrased from: Reed, Ben (2013-10-30). Starting Small: The Ultimate Small Group Blueprint (pp. 12-13). Rainer Publishing.