This is the age of mega churches. You can visit massive churches in almost every large world city. The largest of them all is in South Korea. On an average Sunday, two hundred thousand people gather for worship in seven services. Now, if the Church is a relational community of Christ-followers, how does one relate to two-hundred thousand people? Is it even possible? Would it not seem like a small group of believers would be a more natural size for a faith community?
Little Churches Within the Big Church
On the other hand, look at the book of Acts. The Church actually started “mega,” with three thousand baptized in the first service! At the same time, Luke (the author of Acts) tells us that the church used to meet regularly in people’s homes (and there was food).
The best churches in history have been the ones where small groups of believers banded together for worship, teaching, fellowship, service, and often food. Whether through the monastic movement in the middle ages, to early Methodism’s “classes” to today’s “cell churches,” the best congregations have always combined large celebrations with small groups for a more complete experience of the Christian faith.
Seven Benefits of Being Part of a Small Group
Call them what you want, small groups in a local church are a win-win for everyone. Just consider these seven benefits of being part of a small group of believers who meet regularly and “do life together.”
1. Closer Relationships. We can only relate in depth with a small group of people. It is an obvious reality of human relationships. Doing life with 5-10 people will develop closer bonds and a deep sense of belonging and community.
2. Deeper Influence. Leadership is influencing people towards God’s purpose. Deeper relationships allow deeper influence, so small groups are the best environment to exercise in-depth leadership.
3. Non-threatening Environment. People who are unfamiliar with the Gospel and with Christianity are more open to an invitation to meet a group of friends than to a public meeting with hundreds or thousands (especially if there is food involved).
4. Best Use of Gifts. Paul teaches us about using our Spiritual gifts for the growth of the Church. Only a limited number of people can use their gifts in a large setting. In a small group, it is a different story. Everyone can use their gifts and be used by God to bless others.
5. Best Opportunity to Serve. We are not Christians just to make us happy and save us from Hell. We have a calling to serve others. This works both at an individual and group level.
6. Leadership Development. The outcome of using Spiritual gifts and serving others is that people will grow into leadership. Churches that have successful small groups have no shortage of leaders because people are constantly being equipped to lead.
7. Accountability. We all need to be accountable to others in order to grow Spiritually and maintain our integrity. When properly led, a healthy small group provides the ideal environment for honest and non-judgmental accountability.
The reality is small faith groups work! Yes, the best and biggest churches in the world have small groups, but there is more to the impact of “churches within a church.” Just look at the communities of Jesus-followers that are making the greatest impact around them, and you will find some form of small group behind the success.
How about you? Are you part of a small group? If not, could you launch one?
P.S. We have put together a twelve-lesson small group material based on the Eight Core Values that would be great for your small group. Interested? Click here.