Why Join A Small Group?

Small group ministry is the core of discipleship and mission in Christ’s Church. I have two goals in writing today: 1) to cast a vision for small groups at Faith as essential to our identity and mission as a disciple-making family, and 2) to nudge everyone in Faith Church Loveland’s eBulletin orbit to consider taking a step further into our disciple-making community. Here’s why:


1) Small groups are the basic unit of biblical discipleship.

Consider Acts 2:41-47, which records the response of the earliest Jesus-followers to the Gospel preached on Pentecost:

41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.


Folks responded to the Gospel by repenting (Acts 2:38) and being baptized, which ushered them into the New Covenant community of the baptized where they devoted themselves to the practices of discipleship and to the mission of God to welcome all peoples to Himself. The thousands (see Acts 2:41 above) couldn’t all know and love one another, let alone worship under any one roof. So what was the make-up of the New Covenant community? Small groups of believers. What were all the earliest churches, and what are many (if not most) of the churches alive today around the world? Small groups of believers. Small groups are core to discipleship.


2) Small groups are the basic unit of biblical family.

You can see from their devotion to the Apostles’ teaching that the earliest Christian small groups were biblical. But they were inherently relational as well. That very teaching called them to love one another as Christ had loved them (John 13:34-35). Where do you practice this? For us, it’s primarily among smaller groups of the wider church. Now, you probably experience this in other ministries where smaller groups of the church band together, whether the choir or another committee. To the extent that you are devoted to learning and practicing Scripture together, caring for one another, and reaching out to your neighbors in those groups, those ministries are functioning like small groups. Small groups are core to our identity as a biblical and relational band of Jesus followers.


3) Small groups are the basic unit of biblical mission.

But we have come to understand discipleship as not just biblical and relational, but also as missional. Small groups are the basic unit, the basic force sent by Jesus into the world to make disciples. Paul wrote to churches and leaders of churches. Jesus raised up the 12 and sent out the 11 (the disciples filled in the gap later on!). We are a community on mission to make disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching in our homes, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and communities. So we seek to be intentionally open to neighbors coming into our community. Aren’t you thankful that when you came to Faith Church, you weren’t told, “Sorry, we aren’t open to new folks right now; we’ll let you know when we have an opening”? We don’t waitlist people. We invite people into our mess. We embrace boogers on the wall and all the awkwardness of learning names and how to be around one another because we are called to love one another from womb to tomb, whatever background, class, gender, race, or political party! All are welcome to come and see who Jesus is, to learn of Him, to adore Him and to follow Him. And oftentimes, the best place for a person with questions about Jesus to experience the church is in a small group living room. Before they would enter a sanctuary or think to visit a church website, they need a Christian to invite them into their lives. Could you imagine inviting a co-worker? You might say something like, “You mentioned that you’re looking to get connected in Loveland. I have a small group that meets in a home here in town. We have fun get-togethers once a month and the rest of the month we gather weekly to learn more about Jesus and actively try to follow Him together. Practically that means we care for one another and become very connected over time. Would you be interested in coming with me sometime?” They may say, “Yes,” and never come. They may say, “No,” and come later. You never know what the Lord will do!


Now, you may be in a small group and not see the point. The goal is to be a disciple-making family for Loveland and the world. Simply to be that is enough. Christ will work through your group’s devotion to the Word and to relational and missional practices of the discipleship. He brings the fruit in His time as you faithfully devote yourselves to His Word, following His path together. Perhaps you’re not in a small group, and frankly you’re not interested in another to-do. If you are in a group of people that practices some aspects of discipleship – whether biblical, relational, missional – stay put. But perhaps there is room to grow? Perhaps start a conversation in that group to consider how you might stir one another up to love God and neighbor and do good works for Christ’s glory (Hebrews 10:24). But if you’re not in any smaller group of Christians on mission for Jesus outside a Sunday worship service, I invite you always to know that there is grace to be right where you are; but consider that you’re missing out. We want folks at Faith to run further up and further in to Jesus. If this is a season when Sunday morning is all you could fathom putting toward your life with Christ’s people, grace and peace to you! If you can’t even imagine coming on Sunday, I pray for you to be released like Israel from Pharoah’s bondage to worship the LORD with his people (Hebrews 10:25)! Join me in praying for freedom and space to grow more deeply in a small group of believers. But if you know you have time, but you just haven’t done it, take a risk. Check out our small groups page on our website and reach out. We’ll get in touch with you and look forward to seeing you in a small group soon where we continually seek to know and show the enduring truth and love of Jesus Christ by being a disciple-making family for Loveland and the world.