“Some Christians try to go to heaven alone, in solitude. But believers are not compared to bears or lions or other animals that wander alone. Those who belong to Christ are sheep in this respect, that they love to get together. Sheep go in flocks, and so do God’s people.” – Charles Spurgeon
The consumer mentality that is so prevalent in society today has influenced or even changed our view of community. We can easily focus on what we are going to get out of going to church or participating in a small group rather than what God is going to do in us and through us because of our involvement in the church, small group or ministry. We need each other to help us know the truth about who we are, who God is, and how we can live a more fulfilling life. “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” reminds us that the relationships we form in church, small groups or ministry, can become a tool for God to use in our character transformation. (Proverbs 27:17)
It is in small groups that people get to know each other and then to care and share, to challenge and support, to confide and confess, to forgive and be forgiven, to laugh and weep together. It is in small groups that individuals can grow together with others. Personal growth does not happen automatically or in isolation. It is the result of interactive relationships. Small groups are one of the ways God uses to generate spiritual growth. It was Charles Kingsley that said, “make it a rule, and pray to God to help you to keep it, never, if possible, to lie down at night without being able to say: ‘I have made one human being at least a little wiser, or a little happier, or at least a little better this day.’”
We are so used to technology that we believe we are better connected than ever before. But even though social media and other technology have made our world appear more connected, people have far more virtual or digital friends than genuine friends. It is far easier to stay on the surface and interact on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn than to invest in knowing other people at a deep level. Yet when we take the risk of being authentic with a small group of people, we can experience God’s grace and love coming through others in a way social media or technology will never match.
Andrew Murray said that “our love to God is measured by our everyday fellowship with others and the love it displays.” The goal of small groups is to create environments where Spirit-driven, life changing experiences can happen. While the type of group or study is important, the real benefits of a small group are found in simply doing life together. The same is true of attending church and serving in a ministry.
- When you think of small groups what is the first thing that comes to mind? Has your impression or view of small groups changed over time? If so, how?
- Do you feel as connected as you need to be with other believers? If not, why not?
- What do you see as your responsibility to other believer’s growth?