As a pastor, I am very passionate about small groups. In fact, I believe that joining a small group, next to accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior, is the most important thing you can do. By joining a small group you will understand the Bible better through group discussion, and you will be able to apply it to your own personal situations. In a small group, you will develop close relationships with other believers who will walk beside you in your journey as a follower of Jesus. You will find answers to the needs in your life through group prayer and you will get support in times of crisis or major changes from people who really care for you.
Bottom Line: A Small Group is the help you need to succeed.
Something To Talk About:
If you’ve ever listened to a message and wanted to hit the pause button and ask, “But what about…?” or “I don´t understand,” then a small group is for you. I wish it didn’t have to be, but preaching is a one-way communication. You listen while the speaker speaks. It can be very effective, but not as effective for personal application as a small group. In a small group setting, you can ask questions, participate in a discussion of the text, and hear others share insights and illustrations of the truth you are trying to grasp. The Bible must ultimately be applied to your own personal situations and that happens best in small groups. Join a small group:
- For strength to get up when you fall: If we are going through tough times, we need to know why, and what we should do when we are in them. If not we become confused, frustrated and disillusioned. Unexpected crises are a part of life, they are like storms. And usually, we are either coming out of a crisis, in one presently, or are headed into one. It is very difficult to keep from falling in this life. It is in these times when we should not become isolated. Small groups can be a tremendous source of support when we fall. Be willing to receive help from others. Don’t isolate yourself. Christianity is not a solo sport, it is a team effort filled with relationships and opportunities. Find your support in a good and solid church family. Then join a small group. Do not be alone or anonymous in times of storms. “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
- For encouragement: Small groups are designed to create a safe and loving place where we are free to share life’s joys and struggles. It is a place where we can encourage each other. When the battery in your car is dead, we need someone to come alongside our car and give us a jump. This is an analogy to the ministry of encouragement in a small group. The New Testament commands us to “…encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25). When our spiritual or emotional batteries are low, we can come alongside a small group and get a much needed jumpstart. If you thought about it, you could come up with some examples when other believers “give you a jump” when your batteries were low. That is what small groups are for.
- To defeat those who oppose you: While God wants us to experience His best, there’s something that stands in our way. As believers, we have enemies. One of the main enemies we face is the world. Fighting a spiritual battle can seem daunting to us as Christians, but the Lord wants to encourage us in every way possible. He gives us the weapons that we need to win the war, as well as the reminder that He is ultimately in control of all things. All of this can be summed up in this verse found in Deuteronomy 20:1, that states, “When you go out to fight your enemies and you face horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, do not be afraid. The Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you!” A small group can help you when facing the enemy.
- What are some of the myths you’ve heard about small groups? Are they valid?
- Without community you are always in a crowd, just a face, just coming and going. But, in a community, and in a small group, you are valuable. Agree or disagree? Why?
- Spiritual community helps people grow towards Christ and to reach out like Christ. Agree or disagree? What are some other benefits?
- People in small groups tend to handle pressure better. Agree or disagree?
- What are some reasons not to join a small group? Are they valid?
- What would it take in your opinion to get everyone in a small group at Northstar?
Take One Thing Home with You:
I’d like to take a moment and talk to those people who faithfully participate in small groups about those who don’t. I believe we can do more to encourage new people who don’t attend a small group to get involved. What can we do as existing small groups to make those who haven’t taken the plunge or had a bad experience want to participate in small groups at Northstar? Let me give you a few things to think about.
First, we need to create space for new participants. Some groups are pretty full and while it is easy to say, “there is always room for one more,” that is not always true. Everybody doesn’t show up every week anyway. The reason they don’t show up consistently may be because, when a group gets to be too large, people get lost in the crowd and don’t feel they make enough difference to feel obligated to show up each week. Not only that, when new people try a group and the room is full, they feel very uncomfortable as they feel as though they’re taking someone else’s seat or making the room even more crowded. In this case maybe we need another group.
Second, we need to create a safe environment for new participants. People visiting a pre-existing group for the first time quickly realize that those who are already in the group have history. They also intuitively understand that they’re outsiders that will never know all the inside jokes or be able to connect at the level of those who have been together for months or years. The group doesn’t feel like an emotionally safe place to them because they don’t believe they’ll ever be insiders. We need to make sure they feel connected and that they are wanted. That goes hand in hand with creating a safe place for new members to share their stories. Even though a person is new to the group, they should be comfortable enough to speak openly about their struggles and at the same time celebrating what God is doing in their lives.