Leading a Home Group: Small Group Characteristics
God developed the church based on a small group model, at least in number. There are several other divine organizations. The Trinity is the first small group. The family is normally small in number with clear instructions for raising children to be parents (Deuteronomy 6:1-9). Jesus based his strategy with a small group model for transforming the world with the gospel message (Luke 6:13-16). And the early church was founded on a small group model as people met from house to house (Acts 2:41-47).
There are several characteristics of a small group. Small groups do not have to be uniform. There can be a great variety based on the culture, purpose and background of those participating. Consider the following characteristics of a small group.
First, small groups must be established on a biblical foundation (Matt. 7:24-27). If Scripture is not the foundation and we’re not obedient to it, we’ll be building on sinking sand. Those who participate will likely get distracted to a variety of pulls from within and without the group. Small groups do not develop their own standards or theology. They are founded upon God’s Word to build each other up in truth for the sanctification process. Nothing can happen that will honor God, unless it is built upon His Word. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
Secondly, small groups are designed for intentional discipleship. Small groups are planned gatherings, not by accident or serendipitous. The purpose of a small group is to help people grow spiritually and eventually to become spiritual parents. The group leaders help people become committed disciples following Jesus as head, committed to being changed by Jesus and committed to the mission of making disciples. The small group will grow by discussing, serving others and by becoming spiritual parents of others as disciples volunteer to lead another group. (Eph. 4:11-13; Matt 14:15-18, 27-31; Luke 10: 1; 22:7-13; John 6:5-6)
Thirdly, small groups are relational gatherings. Small groups provide the relational environment where people learn by discussing what they are hearing and then put it into practice. They share with one another and care for the needs within the group for open communication and trust. Small groups provide the environment for transparency and authenticity. It’s the model Jesus demonstrated. The context of a small group allows for greater accountability between members, encouragement in the spiritual battles and unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Small groups provide the setting to establish a solid biblical worldview in relationship with people (1 Cor. 12:25; Deut. 6:7-9; John 17:17; Matt. 4:4; Ps. 119:105).
Fourthly, small groups are designed to reproduce. This is the fulfillment of the Great Commission to multiply disciples. Spiritual parents lead small groups with the desire that disciples will rise up out of the group to lead other groups. Small groups can easily live out the adage “us four and no more” attitude, but reproducible perspectives will keep groups growing and multiplying!
Build your small groups on these principles and you’ll have the base for dynamic growth. Avoid one of these principles at the peril of not seeing multiplication in small groups. Let’s watch God cause the growth as we plant and water!