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God has placed you together with the people in your congregation. You did not chose them; God chose them. And that diversity of personalities, backgrounds, social class, ethnicities is used by God to make you grow in Christ and to display the unifying power of the cross.

Discover the Power of Small (Growth) Groups

 



Small (Growth) Groups

"Small groups”, or growth groups as we prefer to name them, are one setting where spiritual growth, transformation, and Christian fellowship can be found. We believe small groups are an important factor for growth, both for the individual and the church body. The best Christian small groups provide a safe environment to ask questions, to be held accountable, and to be challenged to live a Christ-centered life.
 

In addition to being an effective evangelism tool and providing another entry point into the church small groups also provide an effective means to care for the people as it is impossible for the pastor to provide all the care people need.  As well small groups can accelerate spiritual growth as people are usually more comfortable sharing needs and concerns in small groups which leads to accountability and an atmosphere that nurtures growth.


Small groups sift the work of the church to the people and fulfills Ephesians 4:12. This verse says "equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry." As Christians, we are saints, whether or not we are comfortable with the term. The early church demonstrated how the work of the church was accomplished by empowering lay-leaders. Community people expect the pastor to be involved in ministry. When the laity, however, takes this role, the impact is greater.

Dale Galloway, pastor of New Hope Community Church in Portland states "No church with more than 50 members can be effective in pastoral care without enlisting and enabling the lay people to do daily work of pastoral care."

According to a Gallup poll, there are six needs people have today.

   1. To believe life is meaningful and has purpose
   2. To have a sense of community and deeper relationships
   3. To be appreciated and respected
   4. To be listened to and heard
   5. To feel that one is growing in faith
   6. To have practical help in developing a mature faith

Based on the reasons for developing small groups, it is easy to see how small groups provide a means of meeting these needs.

The Importance of Small Groups

I want to draw your attention to what I believe needs to be part of our priority in our own growth and spiritual maturity; small groups. I believe there is a real need for small groups where the bible is studied and relationships are built. I have put together a few excerpts from others about the importance of small groups and want to share them with you:

If the depths of relationships and our commitment to one another are so important to God, then small groups must also be important as it is only in small groups that close relationships can develop. During the first two centuries of the Christian era church buildings did not exist, so it was necessary that people met in their homes.

In the early "house churches", pictured vividly by Paul in Romans 16, fellowship would, no doubt, often be over a meal. There are few things more effective for building fellowship than sharing meals. It is no doubt partly due to this natural creating of close relationships that the early church grew so fast, even in times of persecution.

 

We are seeing this today in the success of the Alpha program worldwide, a program that focuses on the building of relationships in small groups, in homes and over meals, as a means of sharing the gospel. It is also apparent in the remarkable success of the "Group of Twelve" approach in Colombia which has grown from 600 cell groups to something like 50,000 in four years. In Cuba, where new church construction is still forbidden, the Assemblies of God has grown from 9,000 to over 100,000 in ten years and has more than 2,000 house churches. The Hosanna World Outreach Centre in Taita has been identified as the fastest growing church in New Zealand. It has grown from scratch to 500 members in five years. Their pastor, Joshua Avia says, "We are a cell church where everybody does everything." They work on a cell principle of twelve members.

Small groups, where all the members participate as directly as possible, are more effective for changing attitudes and behaviour than is the lecture method. This has been shown by "a whole series of studies", according to Paul Hore in the Handbook of Small Group Studies. One lady told how she took her granddaughter to church for the first time. As they knelt in the tall-sided pew, the little girl whispered, "Who are we hiding from?" It is harder to hide from ourselves or from one another in the smaller group, than in the crowd.” John Stott wrote in One People: Clergy and Laity in God's Church: “I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that small groups, Christian family or fellowship groups, are indispensable for our growth into spiritual maturity.”

 

When you look at church history it is clear that small groups have played an important part in its growth. Part of the reason is that small groups are where effective discipleship can happen. It is a place where coming to understand God’s Word and its practical applications to our lives can be discovered.

Jesus devoted himself to a few people and not the masses. He chose a small group at the beginning of his ministry. This group consisted of twelve ordinary uneducated men probably in their 20's. Jesus chose to build into a few men a strong foundation so as to change the world. Most of Jesus' ministry time was spending time daily with these men.

 

The small group experience of the disciples was used to start the "church". The early church was a small group that gathered to support one another and share the good news with others. Others were attracted to this group (church) because of "their love for one another". This group initially met together daily in their homes, ate together, and praised God together, and others came to join them, (Acts 2:46-47). The early church mainly met together in homes which would limit the number to a small group.

The revival led by John Wesley was primarily based on the use of small groups for mutual confession to one another (James 5:16), to give encouragement and support in overcoming temptation and in developing a Christian style of life. Wesley used "bands" and "classes" led by lay people which met weekly to report on their spiritual progress, needs, and problems, and to receive support and prayer.

 

It has been said that Methodism began to lose its fire when it built its first church building. Today the church worldwide is exploding through the use of cell groups and the use of recovery support groups within the church.

 

"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." (Hebrews 10:24-25)

 

 "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."

(1 Thess. 5:11)

 

"Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another."

(Proverbs 27:17)

 

"And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers."

(Acts 5:42)

Pastor Neil Allenbrand

Flaws of Biblical Proportions


Check the calendar for small group dates and times at the Penticton Church of the Nazarene or contact Deb in the office and she will be able to assist you in finding the right small group for you.

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email: info@nazpen.org

Loving People to Freedom in Christ

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