A while back, I led a course for training small group leaders. One of the things that we discussed was the purpose for having a small groups program in the church. The bottom line is that a healthy small groups program will help build your church. It does this in three ways.
A. Discipleship- “Make disciples…” Every church does the process of discipleship differently. More traditional churches often use their Sunday School as their small groups program. Many other churches, including C3 Church, have small groups that meet during the week. However they are used, though, small groups are an excellent way to take people on the journey of following Jesus.
Rick Warren says, “You can impress people from a distance, but you influence them up close.” In a small setting, the group leader is able to really get to know everyone. He gets an idea of where they are at on their journey and how he or she can help them to grow. Faithfulness, spiritual maturity, being teachable, family life, are all part of the discipleship process and can be modeled in a small group. This was pretty much the same model of discipleship that Jesus used and it really has not been improved on in 2000 years.
“You can impress people from a distance, but you influence them up close.” Rick Warren
B. Pastoral Care- The small group is the primary setting where people are cared for and looked after. People feel more comfortable sharing things in a smaller setting. The members are able to support each other during difficult times and rejoice with each other during good times.
A number of years ago, a family expressed some anger with the pastoral team that I was a part of. They did not feel that the church had supported them or helped them during the loss of a family member. Of course, we felt terrible that we had somehow let these church members down. A little investigation, however, showed that this family was not involved in a small group and no one on our leadership team had any idea that they had experienced a death in the family.
The small group is the primary setting in the church where people are cared for and looked after.
When people are plugged into a healthy small group, these kinds of things do not happen. There is a built in support system. The group becomes a family that takes care of each other. The communication system is also in place so that the group leader can advise the pastoral team when a family is going through a crisis.
C. Leadership Development- People develop their leadership skills, spiritual gifts, and confidence in a small group setting. This is one of the best places in the church to train and develop leaders. The small group is a safe place for someone to practice the skills of leadership.
The small group is one the best places in the church to train and develop leaders.
One of the Biblical patterns of leadership involves mentoring. We should always be looking for someone to invest in. Small group leaders should constantly be looking to raise up other leaders who can eventually lead their own group, as well as being involved in other aspects of leadership.
Discipleship, Pastoral Care, and Leadership Development are three vital areas to help build any church. A good healthy small groups program provides a great venue for these three areas to be be worked out. How does the small groups program work in your church?
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