Small groups are different in every church. Everyone seems to have their own explanation of how they should be run. Everyone has their own definition for community groups, small groups, life groups, connection groups and yes, sunday school! Does group mentality and motive matter in order to build a healthy small group? I think so. The question that many ask is, "what is in it for me?" instead of, "who can I encourage, love and support in my small group?" The cultural norm is to look at activities, events and groups we get involved in with selfish attitudes. We all have struggles, pain, opinions, attitudes and life experiences. When you combine all of these in one group, it will be far from perfect. Small groups are messy. The question then becomes, Is this small group for me or for others?
Small group ministry is one of the most powerful aspects of the church. It is a priority to have a small group that builds community and love. A group that is healthy will consistently reiterate the purpose of the group in order to stay focused on reaching the lost and well as growing disciples. Many times we use the term, "doing life together." Doing life together means we spur each other onto spiritual maturity. Doing life together does not mean it becomes all about our own preferences and desires. And by the way, spiritual maturity is about setting an example.
Spiritual maturity is...
- Loving those who do not show it in return. "But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere." James 3:17.
- Applying Matthew 18 and talking to those which you have a problem with and stop talking about them.
- Overlooking other people's mistakes because of their own mistakes. "Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs." Proverbs 19:11.
- Praying for those who do not know Christ.
- Caring for the interests of others and not your own.Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
- Agenda of grace and not a personal agenda of preferences.
Is small group just about a "closed group" mentality where it is all about ourselves or is there more to it? I sure hope so. Living "inwardly" basically tells a broken world that we are too busy to share the life changing message of the gospel with them.
Evangelism and discipleship are not divorced from each other. A healthy small group will be actively reaching and inviting lost people. Why? Because a disciple makes disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Many struggle with this because it goes against the grain of what is most comfortable. Small groups that have an inward encouragement to one another and an outward love for those who need Jesus are the healthiest.
I'd like to hear your thoughts on small group mentality? Is it just for the group or a little of both evangelism and discipleship?