Spiritual benefits are often touted as the most important reasons to be in a small group.
Being in a small group consistently for the last two years has taught me that there may be an even larger benefit: community.
I know that may sound a little heretical coming from a pastor, but think through this with me. Not everyone has an interest in studying the Bible. Not everyone wants to be involved in discipleship. But one of the biggest needs in society these days is community. Real community. Friendships. Family.
Here’s how this plays out in a large church like Pioneer Memorial.
We use semester-based small groups. We call them GROW groups. (You can read a thorough description of the system here.) Two of the core characteristics of every GROW group is that they do a service project together and also do a social event in that semester.
If you’re a leader of a grow, there’s also an added social element. Once or twice in the semester each group leader meets with his team leader. A team leader is someone who coaches and is a support to 4-5 groups. Usually this gathering will be during an afternoon potluck after church. We catch up. Eat. Ask questions. Pray together.
Yes, I love to study the Bible. I love to learn more about God. And these things happen in most of the groups, but one of the things that are really unique to these groups is the community that is built. It’s difficult for that to happen with just a weekend worship service.
So every few months, when a new group begins, I can look forward to making new friends and meeting new people. The great thing is that real friendships can develop out of these groups; friendships that you further explore outside of any church service or small group. In a church our size, but even in a tiny church, community is a huge win and a necessity.
What about you? How have small groups benefited you the most? (To leave a comment click here)
[image by Joris_Louwes]