Small groups work. I know it because I’ve seen them work in my own life. Years ago, my husband and I noticed that just about every time we made a big leap forward in our spiritual lives, it was because of participation in a small group. They’ve been an integral part in my journey of sanctification(The word sanctification is related to the word saint; both words have to do with holiness.) Justification is something we already have through Christ’s sacrifice, but sanctification is a process in which every Christian participates, a process to become more and more Christlike.
My first group, was a Bible Study group. I think there were eight of us, plus our Pastor, and together we did a through-the-Bible study of the entire Bible called Divine Drama. It lasted for two years. Terry and I had young children at the time, so we took turns going to the weekly meeting. Whoever attended the meeting took a tape recorder and recorded the lesson for the person who stayed home. Believe it or not, people talked to the recorder to send the missing member messages! It was lots of fun, I learned to put all those Bible stories into the correct chronological order, and grew very close to the other participants.
Later we attended Marriage Encounter and Via de Cristo weekends, both of which recommend follow-on small groups. They encourage deep sharing about the personal and spiritual life of the members. You learn how others are struggling, or succeeding in relationships with God, family and others. You pray together. You encourage one another. You engage in evangelism or other Christian activities together.
I can’t explain exactly how all this works, except that if you are open and patient, the Holy Spirit does all the work. It doesn’t even matter if you have a lot in common, because you have this one big thing in common — you are all followers of Jesus, and you have a desire to grow in your faith and understanding of His will.
So, my advice to you is this: if you haven’t experienced a small group, find one or start one! Do a Bible study, talk about your spiritual life, pray together, find a group project. Be consistent; give it some time. You’ll be amazed at what you, God and your brothers and sisters in Christ can do together!
Would anyone else like to post about their personal walk and how small groups have played a part?