I have grown up in a very traditional church setting. I have been to church for Sunday school, morning worship, evening worship, and evening Bible study since I was born. I know the drill, and I have been around people who know the drill as well. I recently took a new position where the structure is a bit different from what I am accustomed too. In this model, there is a Sunday morning, but small groups will meet in homes during the week. Many church leaders bulk at this idea, and often criticize these new models of church that so many churches have gone to. I have been in that culture, and understand where they are going from. At one time, I was a bit skeptical of the group method.
Since coming to this new position, I have been going to two Bible study groups. I am blown away at the success of these Bible studies. Now, in this post, I want to clarify what I mean by groups. I am talking directly to a small group of people who gather together outside of corporate worship for Bible study. It can be Sunday school (although many classes are so large, they lose some of what we will discuss), Bible fellowship, or home Bible studies. I want to share through my experience how I believe groups are the best way to move people to true discipleship.
- Groups provide deeper relationships– At church, it is extremely rare that people get down deep into your life. In fact, I am unsure I have actually seen it happen in my past. I am talking the kind of relationship where people know deep even dark things about you. Some of the stuff that I have shared and plan to share in group, I have never shared in the churches that I have been a part of. I was speaking with one of our group leaders, and he shared with me that when the group began a year ago, all of the couples involved did not know each other. He went on to explain how now (a year later), they are best friends, and hang out regularly outside of group. He also said by week 3 of the group, we had some couples share things about them that they have never shared with anyone. Groups are supposed to create a culture of honesty, openness, and trust so that you can be transparent.
- Groups provide weekly fellowship– Church does this too in Sunday school or Bible fellowship. I recognize that so not going against it, but sometimes corporate worship services do not provide deep fellowship. This is why you need to be involved in some type of group. I have been to church services where you speak to 15 people, but never get past, “It’s good to see you. Hope you had a great week.” Groups provide meaningful conversations each week.
- Groups provide Accountability– If you are not in a group, name an accountability partner in your head now. It is more than likely difficult. In a small group, you get a few people who really know you to hold you accountable so that you can become a better follower of Christ.
- Groups demand a response to Scripture– The groups we are involved in have about 10 adults in each of them. After the lesson, there are open discussion questions for the group. It demands a response. Do you know how many church services that I have been to where I have left without responding appropriately to the Scripture that was presented to me? Groups provide application and opens it up for a response to what you just heard.
- Groups allow others to lead– We hear a lot from pastors, but groups allow lay leaders in your church to step up. I have enjoyed seeing two lay leaders step up in the groups we have been a part of. They have done a fantastic job.
Now, if you think I am providing reasons that we should do groups instead of corporate worship services, you have missed the entire purpose of this post. I love going to church worship services. I still go, and enjoy going. I am just saying that groups are where the discipleship happens. If you are not currently in a Bible study group, you need to be. Join a group and start growing with other people.