I keep finding churches that have small group ministries (called SGMs going forward). This isn’t unusual. Plenty of churches have been into this idea of small groups for a while now—more so in the mega-churches. Thousands of people going through the door winds up creating an atmosphere of anonymity; SGMs winds up being a pragmatic approach for creating community.
But I’ve seen SGMs in churches with as little as seventy-five people.
By SGMs I don’t mean Sunday School where people think that Kids need to have a targeted message. I don’t even mean a ministry like a few of the people in the assembly working in a Homeless Shelter. I mean the small groups where the local church has small groups (sometimes in this article called SGs) that meet regularly in a home for something other than a Bible study but it might include a Bible study. Perhaps working through some book (say on marriage) together. Perhaps praying together or learning to pray together (Luke 11:1). The goal, they say, is essentially a fellowship group that gets to know each other and function together while leaning on one another: a pathway to fellowship and discipleship.
What I’ve also seen is that this is then promoted as the Biblical model for discipleship and fellowship. If this is the Biblical model for fellowship, discipleship and outreach then it’s not really a optional.
First, I’ll restate what layperson Small Group Ministry Proponents (called SGMPs going forward) seem to repeatedly use in their presentation; then I’ll examine the grounds for those positions; then, if possible, I’ll come to a conclusion.
I make no promises that this will actually conclude in this post. It may be the case that some SGMP will come along with another argument that I may have to examine. Or someone might recommend a book on the issue and I’ll have to deal with a scholarly argument. Who knows.
Also, this post will be extremely long. Breaking it into smaller posts might help traffic or general readability, but the point here isn’t really to aid either but for me to examine a position. That being said, I will break up the post into pages so that you, person who is reading over my shoulder, don’t feel overwhelmed by the length of the post on one page.