When I talk to a group of people about anything – from child sponsorship to the kingdom – I try to guess what that group already thinks about that topic. Are they skeptics? Are they fans? Are they new to the subject? Are we likely to be in agreement already? Or not?
I’m speaking to our church’s small group leaders tonight about their purpose. There’s a lot that could be said. I have pages of notes to prove it. To narrow things down I started wondering what people in small groups already think their purpose is?
Why wonder when you can Twitter? Our church promotes small groups primarily as the best way to make friends in the church, get their support and give some in return – at least, that’s what’s stuck with me.
So I asked my Twitter followers and Facebook “friends”:
If you’re already a good neighbor and friend do you personally need a church “small group”? What for? Whatcha think?
Here’s some of what I heard back on Twitter:
@johannaprice Yes! Small groups aren’t just for making friends: they’re for accountability, growth, in-depth study, community.
@swddym each person needs a group of people thinking about them, not every minute but every day, a small group may help but may not
@daveyank To me personally, “small group” is where real church happens
Some folks on Facebook said:
Misty: I feel like each week we meet in someone’s home for small group we are actually having ‘church
Mark: when we are together especially in small groups wow what intimate fellowship
DeWayne: The small group is God’s support group for Christians, basically. Based in Acts 2, it provides for the basic functions and purposesof the church.
Wow. Glad I asked. Not what I expected to hear.
I was shocked that the majority of folks replying to my question (and the many that followed) believe small groups are fantastic at fostering relationships, teaching the bible, creating intimacy and transparency, are well-suited for prayer and “discipleship” (however that’s defined) and even great for meeting physical needs of their members. DeWayne summed up the majority view nicely: “[a small group] provides for the the basic functions and purposes of the church [as outlined in Acts 2].”
The discussion left me with a couple of nagging questions: If DeWayne is right, then why not kill Sunday morning “big church” and just do small groups? (Which I believe is what some folks call “house church”)
And how many Christian friends do I need before I can opt out of small group (or call my circle of friends my small group)?
Conversation grenade tossed.
This is the part where you talk back.