Now for many people, “excited” and “small group” have never belonged in the same sentence. Except for maybe saying how you are not excited for small group.
And this is understandable. If you have been a Christian for a good period of time and belong to a church (these things should go hand in hand), there is a good chance you have been a part of a small group/bible study/community group/whatever you want to call it.
For many people they go mostly because they feel like they have to or its the right or good thing to do. Its just something they can check off the list of things they have done. They may only go once a month, but that is enough to not feel guilty about not going.
But that is not the point of small groups. It’s not something we are a part of as a part of our “Christian duty.” Small groups are essential because the Christian life is to be lived in community, not in isolation.
So why are so many small groups either boring, or unhelpful, or a drag to go to? Because they lack relationships. When people actually like and care about the people in their group, it makes for (gasp) an enjoyable experience!
Going to a group once a week with people you don’t talk to, have no real relationship with, and only somewhat attempt to share life’s difficulties and struggles with doesn’t really work. And instead people come inconsistently and no one ever really gets to know anyone.
The key to strong small groups is intentionally pursuing relationships, and this often starts with the group leaders. Especially in the beginning, group leaders must take the initiative to not only spend time with and get to know the people in their group, they should try and facilitate times where people in the group can get together outside of the standard small group night.
The good news is that successful groups don’t necessarily need leaders who know a ton about the Bible and have great spiritual/intellectual/wise answers (though being Biblical sound is important). You don’t need a PhD in theology to lead a thriving group, you just need to genuinely care for the people and be able to facilitate conversation.
That being said, here are three reasons why small groups are important:
1) To encourage one another
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Meeting together in smaller groups can encourage believers in two ways. First is somewhat obvious; we can encourage one another through times of struggle or celebrate in the good times. We can build each other up and hold each other accountable.
Secondly, it can get easily discouraging to remain strong in your faith when you never spend quality time around other believers. Being around other Christians reminds you that there are other sane and (hopefully) normal people who also make Jesus a priority. It helps you remember that you are not the only one.
2) To confess sin and grow with one another
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.
I find that the times when my walk with Christ has been the strongest has always been when I was doing life with other believers. Like marathon runners train with other runners and push each other, so believers also need one another to grow in the relationship with Jesus and to be more like him.
3) To follow Christ’s command
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Believers are to love one another, and this doesn’t happen when we individualize and privatize our faith. Though our salvation is not earned by anything we do, we honor God by following his commands. Repeatedly throughout the New Testament we see that the Christian life is communal. We need one another to fight sin, encourage each other, serve each other, and learn from each other.
Christ commands believers to live in community for our good. We need each other. And this is why (effective) small groups are so important.