Valuing Small Groups
At South Hills we have found that it is just as important for the church to grow smaller as it is for the church to grow Larger. Another way of saying this is, as churches grow in attendance they need to grow in connection. Over the past few years South Hills has exploded from just a handful of people meeting in house to nearly 3,000 each weekend. As this has happened we have found the need for creating a church that can connect with people in a smaller setting outside the weekend services. Shaping the church into smaller communities for greater impact has become our focus. I don’t just promote groups as one option among many other activities; I promote small groups as a non-negotiable. I let people know that sharing life together takes priority over fulfilling a weekly calendar item. Small groups promote an environment that is created to draw closer to God and draw closer to others.
I have found that small groups have had a tremendous impact on our church members regardless of what level of spiritual maturity they are in or regardless of the study they’re covering. One of the common statements I hear over and over is how members have realized that they’re “not alone”. Group members realize how others face similar problems to the ones they’re currently facing. Group members find fulfillment in being able to use their experiences, talent, and gifts to lift up and encourage others. I have seen groups rally to care for each other, whether it be bringing meals to someone who is ill or has just had a new baby to helping planning funeral arrangements for a loved one. I have heard the stories of groups making sure one of their member’s bills get paid, or making sure the family who is out of work has enough to eat.Another exciting thing that happens in small groups is being able to see the bigness of God through other people’s eyes. Faith gets stretched, group members become accountable to one another, and everyone encourages each individual to grow.
For us, small groups have become a way of life, not an event. Small groups make a large church feel like a small intimate church. This is certainly true of South Hills. These groups are a place where a journey is shared, joys are shared, struggles are shared, and growth is shared. Romans 12:5b NLT says: “Since we are all of one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.” The word body is often used to describe a group of people connected for a purpose. It is innate to desire to be connected as a body or group. God has designed us to be a part of the body of Christ. It is built into our DNA to be devoted to one another and to honor one another. Romans 12:10 NIV says: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
The development of meaningful relationships, where every member carries a significant sense of belonging is the essence of what it means to grow smaller and larger at the same time. Keep in mind that there are many ways to do small groups. Find the method that works for your church. You may even use more than one method. That’s ok too. Remember, the one consistent trait of all successful small groups programs is the support of the lead pastor. I whole heartedly support our small groups and our small groups team. I encourage every person who attends South Hills to be a part of a small group. Yes, the church is meant to grow in attendance, but it should also grow in intimacy. Small groups were the example used in the early church as is still the example today.
Until next time,
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:44-47
Posted on July 8, 2010, in church growth, Developing Healthy Churches, influence, small groups and tagged church attendence, church growth, Effective Leader, Human Relations, Life Change, small groups. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.