Must Churches Have Small Groups (A Small Groups Ministry for Growth, Discipleship and Fellowship)?

Arguments for Small Groups

This section doesn’t state my position. At this point in the post, I don’t have an argued position though I do (admittedly) have an intuition that the position is really unfounded. Where I can link to the SGMP argument online, I will.

(1) SGMs are not wrong on account of them not being in the Bible. Although there is no mention of SGMs in the Bible, there is also no mention of the Trinity. That doesn’t mean “Trinity”; is unbiblical, it just means that you have to look for the Scriptural concept or principle.

(2) The concept of the small group is grounded in the nature of the Trinity: a community made up of a small group. Here’s a quote from Biblical Foundations for Small Group Ministry: An Integrational Approach that I found over at Luke Gerarty’s blog.

“From the beginning, God has existed as a community of Being. In human history God has revealed this community of Being as Father, Son and Spirit, an eternal small group, a Trinity of Being and relationship, around whom the greater community of eternal beings is gathered, both angelic and resurrected.”

(3) The Small Group principle is revealed in Exodus 18 where Moses couldn’t handle all the work by himself and he formed small groups. He had to delegate responsibility to smaller groups that would then, if need be, bring their more difficult issues to Moses. This thing was never frowned upon by God, Jethro and Moses (who were both men of God), and this thing is even repeated to the second generation’s re-presentation of the Law (Deut. 1:9-18) therefore this is a principle that should have application today.

(4) Jesus himself established a SGM pattern by teaching large groups (like in John 6) but then spending most of his time teaching a small group of 12 (Matt. 4:18-22, Matt. 10:2-4, Luke 6:13-16, Luke 22:28). Even feeding a large group of 5000 is split into feeding smaller groups (Matt 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-14). Jesus then pushes the pattern forward saying that in the way he was sent, he now sends his disciples (John 20:21). Then Paul states in Ephesians 5:1-2 that we’re to be imitators of Christ. This isn’t only about character, but also about his walk and behavior. Paul repeats the pattern by working in small groups when he teaches Timothy and exhorts him to teach all that to faithful men who can teach others also (2 Tim 2:2). We should be doing SGM like Jesus, the Disciples, Paul and Timothy.

(5) This was a pattern that was copied by the Early Church. The Apostles couldn’t spend their hours dealing with all the problems so they delegated deacons to do that work while they devoted themselves to study and prayer. (Acts 6)

(6) The early church always had two types of meetings: they would gather at the temple and they would meet daily in homes (Acts 2:46-47; 5:42). Indeed, we find this pattern throughout the book of Acts where they first are at the temple or synagogues and then are gathered together in homes, be it for praying (Acts 12:12), meeting (Acts 16:40), or receiving Paul’s teaching (Acts 20:20).

(7) The New Testament is fraught with admonition that we’re to accept one another (Rom 15:7), care for one another (1 Cor 12:25), encourage each other (1 Thes 5:11), pray for one another (James 5:16), love one another (John 4:11), carry each other’s burdens (Gal 6:2). These things can only be properly accomplished where anonymity isn’t a problem and that is in the setting of a small group.

(8) Small groups have been used throughout church history1 with excellent results: St. Francis of Assisi, the Anabaptists, the Lutherans, and the Methodists under John Wesley2.

(9) People are more likely to visit homes than the church building because they feel less intimidated and thus can ask questions. A SGM is sensitive in this regard.

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