What is the purpose of a small group?
Many people may have many different reasons for participating in a small group, but for the small groups or home groups at Grace, there is one purpose. There are many reasons to join and many effects, but there is one purpose. That purpose is to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission in the most effective way.
The Great Commandment is:
- 37 Jesus said to him, “`You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
- 38 “This is the first and great commandment.
- 39 “And the second is like it:`You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matt. 22:37-39)
The Great Commission is:
- 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
- 20 “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matt 28:19-20)
When you make life about God, instead of self, all things move into harmony with His will.
People often join small groups for their own reasons, just like people do everything. They want what they want when they want it. We don’t know any better when we are born and we have to be disciple to God’s will. Some people join small groups because they want to identify with a group of people, or they want to learn in a Bible study, or they want the fellowship of others in a good and safe environment. Some people join small groups because they get dragged into one by their spouse, or they join because they think they might be able to develop business relationships, or they think the leader may have something they want.
What is at the core of each of the above reasons? It’s all about self. I’m not condemning those reasons, because in themselves they are not bad, but they reveal motivations that are coming from a spiritual infant or spiritual child. Again, I’m not condemning those reasons, but the person has not grown spiritually to understand the purpose of a small group. They have not grasped the purpose of a small group, because they have not been taught the purpose, or they have not been discipled to understand the purpose, or they have heard it, but have not sealed it in their thinking.
The purpose of a small group is to help 80% of the congregation become spiritual parents, who are purposing to disciple spiritual parents.
If you have the vision of discipling spiritual parents on the part of the leadership, then all the reasons people join small groups will lead to the right goal. Spiritual infants and spiritual children always have self as the focus and that’s normal. No one condemns a spiritual infant or spiritual child for their personal actions. However, the leadership has to keep in mind the purpose, so the small group does not get off track and merely become a Bible study or social gathering as an end in itself. The enemy would gladly be content with that, if it doesn’t lead to multiplication.
When the purpose becomes a Bible study or social gathering (many try to call fellowship), it really is about self and the true purpose is hindered and the godly influence intended by the Lord into the community is hindered. Bible study should always be a main focus. Fellowship should always be a reason for small groups. But you can study the Bible over 50 lifetimes and never fully understand all there is in Scripture. God said through Hosea, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 6:4) Yes! Israel didn’t have knowledge of God. That was the issue. It wasn’t that they didn’t understand the divine decree or the 8 different forms of baptism inn Scripture. They did not know the Lord.
Teachers who say you have to go to Bible study after Bible study often do it to control people and remain superior to them. They like people dependent on them or the glory of having people flock to their audiences.
When the purpose of the small group is fellowship, then the fleshly result will result in remaining in the comfort zone of those in the small group. God does not want one group of people always fit together without expanding and connecting to new people. When people say the purpose is solely fellowship, they have the attitude, “Us four and no more.”
If you keep the purpose of small groups as raising up spiritual parents, you will keep the right balance on Bible study and fellowship. Spiritual parents multiply and create more spiritual parents who grow by doing Bible study and fellowship. Let’s keep growing!