“Small groups are not a ministry of the church, small groups are not a program of the church, small groups are not an outreach of the church, small groups are not an event of the church, small groups are the church.” – Rick Warren.
Every one of us needs a support system. A brain surgeon wouldn’t operate without first hooking their patient to a life support system. A deep-sea diver wouldn’t explore the ocean’s depths without first connecting to a life support system. We, as Christians, can’t go out into the world without a life support system to help us navigate life’s challenges and grow spiritually. It doesn’t matter how strong or mature you are as a believer; you still need a life support system.
That support system is called a small group. Why are small groups so important in the life of your church? The pastor may give convicting, uplifting sermons. The worship team can make music that makes you feel the presence of God. But even if all those things are true, we still need relationships with other believers. Close relationships in small groups provide a platform that intentionally promotes the relationships every believer needs.
We must remember that Jesus was the greatest small-group leader in history. When Jesus began His public ministry, one of His first acts was to form His small group: “At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles” (Luke 6:13). The Son of God certainly didn’t need the companionship of the apostles. Yet from the very beginning, He elected to establish and minister within a framework of interpersonal relationships.
Jesus ministered in both large and small group contexts. Jesus spoke to large crowds and met with small groups in homes but spent most of His time with His small group. They were together constantly: They traveled, shared meals, experienced mutual hardship, and literally lived together. As Jesus’ crucifixion drew closer, He spent more and more time with His small group and less time with the multitudes that sought Him out. His goal was to equip this small group of disciples to carry on the work of the gospel after He returned to the Father. Jesus selected common men, “unschooled, ordinary men” by worldly standards, who were ready to follow Him and were teachable. In turn, Jesus poured His life into these men and thrust the future of His whole ministry upon them. It would be through them that God would communicate His message of salvation to the world.
We believe that spiritual growth happens best in the context of small groups. At Northstar, we love our small groups because they allow everyone to learn and study the Bible, grow in faith, make new friends, pray for each other, and do life together. They are a place to build deep and valuable friendships with others and be a source of accountability and support on a personal level. This is the power of small groups. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this. The Christian community is only this, whether it is a brief, single encounter or the daily fellowship of years. We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ.”
- How can small groups help us love one another in transparency, accountability, and mutual edification? Why is it important for believers to strive for this kind of community with one another?
- Christian community is both a restorative work of God in the gospel and a response of believers to that work. What does that mean?