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1. The Why of Small Group Leadership

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Why Small Groups?

Why small groups? The need for small groups begins with the very first book in the Bible and is more thoroughly taught throughout the New Testament. In Genesis 2:18, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” This certainly refers to the natural need of most people to be married, but it means so much more.

It means that mankind needs relationships. Small groups are attractive to not only Christians but also to the world, as they are searching for intimate relationships with other people. Small groups provide a medium to not only cultivate the faith of Christians and evangelize the lost, but also to meet the deep-seated need for intimacy in all people.

The Example of Jesus

The greatest evidence and support for small group ministry is seen in the example of Jesus.1 As part of his plan to redeem the world, he essentially became a small group leader. He chose twelve to disciple, fellowship with, pray with, and prepare for future ministry. He not only invested in a large group of twelve, but at times focused on a smaller group of three—the leaders of the twelve (Peter, James, and John). He took the three on the mountain where he was transfigured, and he also met with them for prayer right before going to the cross (Luke 22:39-45). Very telling is the fact that most of Christ’s three-year ministry was spent in a small group—ministering not to the multitudes but to a select few. In Acts, the twelve and their followers were said to have turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). Small group ministry is probably the most effective way to fulfill the Great Commission of making disciples of all nations (Matt 28:18-20). We participate in and lead small groups to be like Jesus and to carry out his command to make disciples.

The Example of the Early Church

Another support for small groups is the ministry of the early church. In Acts 2:46-47, it says:

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.

They met in the temple for public worship and in their homes for private worship. The small group was the “church in miniature.” As they followed this pattern of both public and private worship, the Lord multiplied them. It should be the same in our churches. Every church should be a church of small groups. Christ committed to small group ministry and so did his followers in the early church.

To Fulfill the “One Another” Texts

Finally, small group ministry is also important for fulfilling the “one another” texts in Scripture that are often left unfulfilled in public worship. For example, Hebrews 10:24-25 says,

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

The author said believers should “spur one another” and encourage “one another.” Similarly, John 13:34 says people will know we are Christ’s disciples by the way we “love one another.” In the book, The Pocket Guide to Leading a Small Group, the authors say there are over thirty “one another” texts in the New Testament.2 Certainly, “one another” happens in public worship, but it most easily happens in the intimate worship of small groups.

Part of the way believers fulfill these “one another” texts in a small group is by using their spiritual gifts in that setting. While many members’ gifts can’t be used in public worship simply because of limited positions and need, they can be used in private worship. It is in a small group that people often can use and cultivate their gifts of hospitality, helps, mercy, teaching, and even evangelism.

Small group ministry is important and necessary for many reasons: God made humans to be in relationship. Many struggle with depression, fear, sickness, and other maladies simply because they lack a healthy community. In addition, when Christ came to save the world, he didn’t focus his ministry primarily on the crowds but on a small community of twelve, and three within the twelve. To model Christ, the early church practiced this ministry as well, and God multiplied them daily. God does big things through small groups. We should be excited to participate in his ministry.

Discussion Question: What are some other reasons that small group ministry is so important? What other biblical texts support the prominence of this ministry in the local church?

Copyright © 2017 Gregory Brown

The primary Scriptures used are New International Version 1984 unless otherwise noted. Other versions include English Standard Version, New Living Translation, New American Standard Bible, and King James Version. In the “Sample Small Group Lesson,” the primary version used is the NIV 2011.

Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Bible.

All emphases in Scripture quotations have been added.

BTG Publishing all rights reserved.

11 Dempsey, The Pocket Guide to Leading a Small Group, 13.

2 Early, Dave and Rod Dempsey. The Pocket Guide to Leading a Small Group. Houston, Texas; Touch Publications, 2007.

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