The purpose of home groups is to multiply, and that is a sign of good health. However, it can be deceptive what good health is. For example, one group may enjoy getting together, because they love to study “last day events.” Or another group may like to gather, because their relationships are so strong. Yet, in both of these incidents, while there might be a growth in head knowledge or social activities, there is very little discipleship and no multiplication. In both cases the home groups are not healthy, because they are not multiplying through discipleship. So what makes a healthy home group?
Members are Committed
There are certainly different levels of commitment, but even the new person is committed to coming to check out the home group. Eventually the home group will grow and grasp the vision of commitment to Jesus calling, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” That is a commitment to follow Jesus, a commitment to being changed by Jesus and a commitment to becoming disciple-makers for Jesus. Naturally healthy groups will see a greater commitment to Jesus’ calling.
There is life change leading to spiritual growth
In the commitment, there will be real life change to spiritual growth. Spiritual infants will become spiritual children, who will assume responsibility to become spiritual young adults and eventually spiritual parents who are ready and being launched to lead their own small group. The emphasis is not only on good Bible study, but life change.
Members know each other well and pray for each other
Home groups are designed with a relational environment in mind, which assumes the participants are working on getting to know each other and will pray for each other. Every meeting is an opportunity to get to know each other and grow in transparency with each other. Activities alone with a home group do not foster deeper relationships. Trust is strengthened in the sphere of love and transparency. Because of stronger relationships and great love, prayer will become fervent for each other. Those prayers are not merely impersonal or superficial, but will involve real life change issues.
There is good preparation and implementation
Healthy groups are well prepared and ready to implement what they discuss. Groups that just show up and talk about questions do not show preparation or a sense of urgency to apply Truth to life. Healthy people will prepare, because they realize their preparation means a more vibrant discussion and encouragement to others. The heart of the group is not merely on social activities, but good implementation as individuals and as a group.
There is both a receiving and a giving
Just like a healthy plant soaks up rain and sunshine and then produces fruit, so a healthy participant receives Truth, discussion and love from the group, while maintaining a desire to give to others. On the one hand, if a person only receives, he’ll not practice service to others and he’ll not become a spiritual parent. That is unhealthy. On the other hand, if a person mainly gives, but doesn’t think he needs to learn from others, he won’t be a good leader, because life is really only about him.
Roles are shared, so that many individuals practice leading
Groups will multiply when participants are trained in all aspects of the home group. They are given opportunities by the leadership and willing to host or provide a treat, to facilitate a discussion or prayer time, or even follow-up or invite new people to the group. Leaders will lead, but the group works together to encourage application and take action steps as a group to influence the church and the community. The leader will lead by making sure everyone gets an opportunity to practice home group responsibilities. That is called good discipleship.
Healthy plants grow and multiply. Healthy animals grow and multiply (especially if they’re rabbits!). The same is true for people. If they are healthy spiritually, they will spiritually grow and multiply producing more disciple-making disciple-makers!