Small Groups

Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 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, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

What is a Small Group, and what does it do?

Small groups are where Christians invite friends and neighbors to discover what a Christian community is like.

As we can see from Acts, the early Church began with a small group. Much of this was for practical reasons. Followers of Jesus were growing (one estimate has the church growing at an average of 40 percent every decade for the first three centuries of existence), and they literally had no place to meet. Thus, the logical place to meet was in private homes. Of course, there was the reality that Christians were being actively persecuted by the Roman Empire (all the early Christian centers were under Roman rule). So the church would gather together when they could, but would also meet in decentralized locations. It is this latter practice that lies at the heart of what we know of as small groups.

What Happens In Small Groups?

The main functions of a small group is for members to gather in the name of Christ, grow mature through the mutual practice of various Christian disciplines, then grow out by dividing and beginning again.

1. Gather. The first aspect of small group is to gather. At Sturge, we gather in various times and locations. Some, like the Sunday and Thursday groups, meet at church. Others are situated in various homes—just like the Early Church. But key notion is that this gathering should be to share Jesus with people who do not yet know the Lord.

2. Mature. The second aspect of small groups is to grow in maturity as a group.  Just as the group should physically grow in numbers, it should also encourage and engender spiritual growth. This is when both followers of Jesus and people considering Jesus can ask the hard questions, and let the Spirit speak to them as a group.

3. Grow Out. Finally, some groups may reach the end of the natural life cycle of a small group. This is when the group either splits into smaller groups in order to reach out again, or even conclude their time together with a grateful celebration of the time they shared. They can then start again in a different setting—with different people.

 

 

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