Over the last three years, I have written many posts about small groups. While there are many expressions of small groups and Sunday School is only one of them, I tend to refer to Bible study groups that meet away from the church on another day than Sunday. There are many reasons to support small group Bible study.
I recently received an e-newsletter from pastor Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch.tv. In the newsletter, nine reasons to support small groups are shared. It is worded as "I still love small groups because." Allow me to share the nine reasons. In Part 1, I will share in all capitals the first four reasons to support small groups followed by my commentary:
- THEY FOLLOW THE EARLY CHURCH MODEL OF MEETING IN HOMES. There are several New Testament examples of the early church meeting in homes, like Acts 18:26, Philemon 2, Acts 2:46, and more. Because homes were not large, the groups had to be small. Even Jesus himself gathered a small group (the twelve disciples) around him to train to carry out His work. Also, check out this blog post: Biblical Images for Starting New Classes/Groups.
- THEY ARE A TREMENDOUS TOOL FOR DISCIPLESHIP. Frequently, small group attenders will retain more of what is taught in a small group setting than they do from a large group setting, like worship. Questions and interaction around a truth personalizes the learning. Greater opportunity for application of the truth to the individual lives of learners in the group also encourages discipleship. Small groups can be great sources of encouragement and an environment for positive accountability. For more ideas about small groups and discipleship, check out these blog posts: What Is the Fruit of a Sunday School Class or Small Group?, Small Groups: Practicing the "One Anothers", Transitioning from Sunday School Teacher to Disciple Maker, Revolutionary Sunday School: Changing Converts into Disciples, Teaching Your Sunday School Class the Spiritual Disciplines of Prayer, Bible Study, Meditation, and Solitude, and Sunday School’s Contributions to Disciple Making.
- THEY GET MORE PEOPLE INVOLVED USING THEIR GIFTS OF HOSPITALITY, TEACHING, EXHORTATIONS, ETC. In order to care for more people, you need more groups and more leaders. When you have more groups and leaders, you have more people involved serving out of their spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences. These opportunities for service allow these leaders to learn and apply more of what they are learning. They grow more and are more connected. In turn, the mobilization of more leaders leads to greater outreach, care, relationships, teaching, and ministry. As a result, more people are reached and cared for. For more ideas about engaging people in service, check out these posts: Measuring Your Small Group Impact and Progress, Revolutionary Classes Mobilize Attende rs, Ways Sunday School Can Help Increase Baptisms, Revolutionary Sunday School Does Care, Sunday School Can Help ’Church Switchers’ Stay!, Grow Sunday School Through the Power of WE, Sunday School Class TEAMS, and Sunday School as the Launching Pad for Connecting with Our Culture.
- THEY ENGAGE THE BODY OF CHRIST IN PASTORAL CARE. Small groups develop caring relationships for each other. Because of that care, group members respond to each others' cries for help. They are sensitive to needs and often discover those needs before the church staff. In the words of the newsletter, "Instead of the pastors being the only ones who care for believers, small groups spread the load and utilize gifted lay people." For more ideas about ministering to each other, check out these blog posts: Sunday School Ministry in Times of Grief, Pursuing Sunday School Dropouts, A Simple Two-Part System for Getting Sunday School Class Ministry Done, Part 2, Does Your Sunday School Class Really Care?, and A Key Question to Deeper Sunday School Relationships.