In this blog Jonathan McClintock argues the point for small groups.
As church leaders and pastors, how can we make sure those who attend our church are growing in their faith and becoming mature disciples? If your church is like most Apostolic churches, you put the bulk of your planning and effort into whole-church events (i.e., Sunday and midweek services, Sunday school classes, and fellowship socials). Sure, other things are planned from time to time, but for the most part, the greatest amount of planning and effort go into these meetings.
Stop and Take Inventory
For just a moment, stop and take inventory. Are the majority of people who attend these group events showing signs of spiritual growth? Are they clearly becoming mature disciples of Jesus Christ?
Assess the individual spiritual growth of the members of your congregation. What is making the most impact on their spiritual maturity?
Let me ask this in a different way. Are the majority of people who attend these large group events daily engaging with Scripture and prayer? Do they regularly look for ways to serve others, and are they plugged into areas of service to the church? Are they active in sharing their faith on a regular basis? Are they developing and building relationships with others in the church and community? In other words, are the whole-church events we put most of our effort into actually making the members of our church into people of faith who regularly share their faith, and are they endeavoring to build the kingdom of God?
If not, then what are we missing and how can we make some course corrections?
We could just decide to preach harder, have more whole-church meetings, and just hope someone will catch the vision. And it can happen. Decisions to repent, be baptized, and seek the Lord for the Holy Ghost are often made in the context of whole-church events and services. And we must have these events for the purpose of reaching the masses. But what about the discipleship process and the outgrowth of salvation? What about the decisions that are to be made every day—the decisions that ultimately develop disciples? These are often influenced by those with whom we choose to fellowship and be in close connection.While continuing to reach for the masses, begin putting more effort into helping your congregation connect on a smaller scale, like small groups. Click To Tweet
When Jesus set out to build His church, He not only preached in large events (i.e., Sermon on the Mount, etc.); He chose also to focus on just a few.
Making the Case for Small Groups
Therefore, I would encourage two things: (1) Assess the individual spiritual growth of the members of your congregation. What is making the most impact on their spiritual maturity? How might they become more engaged in sharing their faith and the hope of the gospel with others? (2) While continuing to reach for the masses, begin putting more effort into helping your congregation connect on a smaller scale, like small groups. How can we encourage connection and accountability? How can we make sure no one falls through the cracks?
Creating a ministry of small groups can seem overwhelming for some and impossible for others. How can I do this and at the same time keep all of the other plates spinning? However, instead of thinking of it as a program or ministry, instead see small groups as a necessary part of the life of the body. We need connection. We need accountability. We need one another. We must not allow people to feel as if they have to figure out discipleship all by themselves.
We are the body of Christ, and we extend help to one another. Paul told the Ephesians: “Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:13–16, NKJV).
Resources and Links
Discipleship Now (Apostolic media for small groups)
To read more by Jonathan McClintock, click here.