Why Small Groups?
Our theme and emphasis as a Church in 2017 is I Am the Church: on a Mission. As we move closer towards the Biblical model of being the church, we see in the Word that believers have always done church together - as a community. Small groups, then, are our attempt to create community.
Below is an except from the article, "Making a Case for Small Groups" by Carolyn Taketa:
"God himself is in a community of three persons in one—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—who exist in perfect unity. So it is not surprising that from the beginning, God created us to be in community with one another. Genesis 2:18 states: 'It is not good for man to be alone.' This passage is often used in the context of marriage, but it also speaks to our fundamental need to connect with others in the human community.
When Jesus' ministry began, he called 12 disciples to be his primary relational and ministry community. Did Jesus need this crew to help him? Not really. But Jesus chose to love them, teach them, and pour himself into relationships with them, thereby creating the first 'small group.'
The apostles continued Jesus' model and formed a community of believers who loved God and loved one another. Despite incredible persecution and against all odds, this group of Jesus-followers launched small communities (i.e. church) that proclaimed the gospel and changed the world forever.
Purpose of Small Groups
When we look at the early church we get a picture of small communities of people who followed Jesus together. The Book of Acts, especially Acts 2:42-47, gives us a great picture of the early church and the components of biblical community, which encompassed both the 'temple courts' and 'house to house.'
These believers engaged in life together through teaching, fellowship, communion, prayer, miracles, radical generosity, and corporate worship. They spent time together eating, learning, celebrating, proclaiming the Good News, and supporting each other. In addition, the 50-plus "one another" verses in the New Testament flesh out other aspects of this community. For example, it was a place where people loved, forgave, served, bore burdens, encouraged, exhorted, prayed, equipped, spoke truth in love, confessed sins, and treated each other as precious members of one body.
God never intended for us to live the Christian life alone. How can we apply these 'one another' references unless we are in intentional, close relationships with each other? God calls us to love, not in an abstract or superficial way, but in a deep, face to face, life-on-life, transformative way—which is difficult and inevitably messy.
In our modern culture, small groups are often viewed merely as a program or a fellowship ministry within the church. But for the New Testament church, it was a way of life, encompassing every area of their lives. Their relationships with one another were critical to their pursuit of Jesus, their growth in Christ, and their witness to the Good News. It would be impossible to experience biblical community apart from spiritually significant, intentional relationships with other believers. Relational structures like small groups, therefore, are an integral part of 'being' the church..."