"Small Groups"

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Berean, May 23, 2011.

  1. Berean

    Berean
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    Today I see and hear a lot about small groups. Although my church (SBC) does not have any such groups I see some being used by churches and groups in my community and they are New Testament (Acts 2) as far as I can determine. This is usually done in leiu of the mid week meetings as far as I can tell. The chief function seems to be discipling.
    Does any of your churches participate in this practice and If so I would be interested in your comments? Eapecially Southern Baptist Churches.
    I am not referring to addressing your Sunday Morning Bible (Sunday School) as a small group.
     
  2. webdog

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    We used to do them, in fact I lead one. Our new pastor de-emphasized them in favor of cursillo / walk to emmaus weekend retreats instead. We no longer have them. I'm sad as we exchanged true fellowship and discipleship for an emotionally charged weekend light on Bible and heavy on experience.
     
  3. Zenas

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    Small groups work. We do quite a few of them one Sunday night and Wednesday night. In my view there are two things critical to the success of small groups. First you must have good leaders who know their subject and who want to be leaders. Second, you shouldn’t keep the same group together too long. It leads to cliquishness.
     
  4. Tom Butler

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    Our church is not very big, so all of our groups are small.

    But I'm interested in the rationale for them. Oh, I understand Sunday School classes. Is this based on the same principle? And whatever happened to bigger is better.? Not arguing, just asking.
     
  5. Zenas

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    In a way it's like Sunday School but with small groups you have more of a choice. Say you have 100 in attendance on Sunday night. Rather than hearing the pastor's sermon, you can break into special interest groups and look at various topics. For instance, you could have a group doing a bible survey, another doing a study of the pabables of Jesus, another doing a mission project, another doing a book study by Beth Moore or some similar popular teacher/writer. In the smaller groups the setting can be more like a classroom and less like a church, so people can actually discuss things.

    I'm not sure bigger is better unless you're a fan of megachurches. A lot of people aren't and I think that is why we still have a lot of small churches that are doing well. There have been times when I have seen people visit and when we do a follow up they would say something like this: "We think you are nice people but we are looking for a smaller more intimate congregation."
     
  6. David Lamb

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    We hear a lot about churches in America with hundreds, if not thousands, of members. Here, many churches (particularly among those not involved in ecumenism, charismaticism, and the like) are small groups, longing and praying to the Lord to become larger.
     
  7. ktn4eg

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    We've been doing small groups for about 10 years now.

    The ones that I've been able to attend from time-to-time [I work a 4 pm-midnight shift so I seldom am off when most of them meet.] have all been encouraging and edifying to me. Each one has its own "personality" and most of them have their own "teaching program."

    I enjoy the fellowship that exists in them because most of them don't have more than a half dozen or so in attendance and are very informal. None of them replaces our Sunday School classes; however, I find myself having a little more personal fellowship at them than I normally would at our Sunday morning corporate gatherings.
     
  8. Crabtownboy

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    I believe small groups are one of the real hopes for Christianity in the West. The first small group I was in was back in the early 70's. At that time there were very few young couples in the church. After a year or so the small group had attracted a number of young couples who in time became active members in the church.

    I was quite active in the lay renewal program and saw much success in that program. When the lay renewal started the Baptist leaders in my state were supportive. As they retired and new state board members began their tenure they, for some reason, felted threatened and actively worked to kill the program within Baptist churches. It was a shame as many young couples had been brought into churches through lay renewal.

    Also I have met pastors who do not really want their laity turned on and to become really active for Christ as they, like the leaders mentioned above, feel threatened by a truly turned on laity ... and it was small groups that many feared. The fear was primarily that they would not be able to control the groups. Too many pastors, at least when I was young, wanted to control every jot and tiddle of the church and the congregation. Fortunately that was not the case of the pastors of the churches I was a member of and worked in.

    This is my observation through the years.
     
    #8 Crabtownboy, May 24, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 24, 2011
  9. HeDied4U

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    I was saved in a small group setting while in the Air Force.

    Numerous churches I have attended over the years have had them. A lot of my growth as a Christian has come through small groups.
     
  10. David Lamb

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    How sad that any pastor should not want his fellow church members to be really active for the Saviour!

    However, in all the baptist churches I have knowledge of, there is not the great divide you imply between pastor and laity. Indeed, it's very rare to hear the term "laity" in baptist circles. The clergy/laity distinction is seen in the more liturgical groupings, like the Church of England, and the Roman Catholics.

    If a baptist church has a pastor who in this, or any other serious matter, goes against what the bible says, then that church can and should call another pastor. In my own church, we have in our constitution (that's what I think tends to be referred to as "bylaws" in America), the following:
    Members are under obligation regularly to attend public worship and other fellowship meetings, to pray regularly for the blessing of God upon the church, actively to use within the church, and the Elders' direction, whatever gifts and talents the Lord has given, and to contribute sinancially to the support of the church as the Lord directs, and according to the way He has prospered them.
    Hebrews 10.24-25; 1 Timothy 2.1-3; 2 Corinthians 8.1-4; 2 Corinthians 9; 1 Corinthians 16.1-3
    Any pastor before his appointment would have to indicate his agreement with the whole of the church constitution and statement of faith, including the above excerpt, which specifically mentions the active involvement of all members.

    It sounds to me as though in the baptist churches you know, CTB, the pastor is seen as some kind of autocrat.
     
  11. Crabtownboy

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    Yes, there is not as great a divide between clergy and laity in Baptist churches. My personal belief is that followers of Christ are all laity or clergy. It does not matter to me which term is used, it means everyone. To me the primary ministry of the pastor of a church is to help prepare all the ministers of the church, that is all the congregation, to be prepared for their ministries in the world. The pastor cannot go to all the places that the member of the congregation go. For instance, I worked in a secure building. My pastor could not come into that building ... but I and other Christians who had jobs there could and did. One of our ministries, as Christians, was to take Christ into that word place. Small groups can help greatly in this.



    Sadly that was true in some cases, and is still true today with some pastors. I would not venture to say what percentage as I do not know. When I see or hear a pastor begin talking about 'his authority' I began to wonder where their priorities really are placed, in Christ or their ego. {I say this gently and not with harshness ... the cool screen does not carry inflection well.}
     
  12. preachinjesus

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    We offer small groups on Sundays and throughout the week. As a staff we believe that small groups are the most important connection someone can make at our church.

    In fact, often (whether it is in our new members class or our bi-monthly lunch with the pastors) we tell everyone that if you have to choose one thing to do every week at the church being part of a small group is the most important thing you should choose.

    Small groups (we don't call them that) are vital points of connection and complete our assimilation process for people. The simple truth is that if we can get someone to begin attending a small group at least five times in eight weeks we have an 90% chance that they will stay connected at our church, begin serving, and begin giving until a job, family, or other circumstance moves them away.

    We have a rather intentional model for all of this, and I'm happy to talk more about it.

    The reality is that the only way you'll grow a sustainable ministry that is reaching people is through effective small group ministry. :)

    I'm passionate about small group ministry.:thumbsup:
     
  13. InTheLight

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    I think it depends on how it is executed.

    A church I used to attend was big on small groups. Leaders were assigned and groups formed. It was transparent that the groups were formed with the usual cliques of people, so visitors and new members didn't want to participate. Also, they appeared to be social groups with an emphasis in meeting in people's homes for coffee, pot luck dinners, or other activities.

    But the worst was the constant barrage of pleading for people to join the small groups. Pictures of small groups having cake and ice cream, or sitting around a back yard fire pit, or on a boating outing were shown weekly on the big screen. Every week for about 5 minutes we were hectored on the virtues of joining a small group. Rarely was spiritual growth mentioned, instead it was all about forging deeper relationships with fellow church members and how we non-participants were truly missing out.

    You know what? I've got school-aged kids involved in lots of activities. My calendar is jammed full. I can't take time out on a Friday night to go to someone's house and have cake and maybe talk about the Lord.

    I guess I'd like to ask proponents of small groups--What do these small groups do in their meetings?
     
  14. annsni

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    AMEN! We also have a small group ministry and it's actually the first thing we started with our new campus even before we started Sunday services! We've found it a vital part of the church and a way to connect people with each other. Also, when a church gets larger, it's hard for there to be a personal connection between the pastor and the congregation and sometimes people feel lost but with small groups, they are involved with a close group of people and are more likely to stay since their presence makes a difference.

    When I speak of small groups, I'm speaking of the groups that meet in homes for more "discussion" type stuff. We've done the "pulpit curriculum" where the discussion is about the sermon and that's worked well and we've also done more focused groups going through a study that is either designed by us or one we purchased. These groups meet through the school year and people can invite friends to attend with no problem.

    We also have classes held at church during the week which is more like maybe what some would consider a Sunday school class. It's led by someone teaching and it's not so much fellowship but learning. We don't call these small groups because they are not although they ARE groups that are small. LOL But these are great opportunities to get some in-depth study time and in some cases, almost take a seminary level class! I love these as much as I love the small groups.
     
  15. SaggyWoman

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    Call them what you will, I have been in many churches who have used the concept of Small groups effectively. Good way of connecting. They have met any and every day of the week, may have replaced Sunday or Wednesday evening... whatever.
     
  16. nodak

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    They can be absolutely wonderful--for some.

    And absolutely impossible--for others.

    As an add on for those who benefit, I support them.

    When done instead of SS or DT, I abhore them.

    For singles and couples, they may work well timing wise. For families with children, it can be one more thing sending the family members all off in different directions.
     
  17. mercy4all

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    I am a member of a SBC church and our church has a small group ministry. I have found small groups to be a powerful way of promoting overall church growth and providing proactive opportunities to both church leadership and church members in functioning together to meet the needs of our fellow members, equipping the saints, and evangelizing the lost. Our small group is a place where accountability to each other occurs and, in doing so, promotes intercessory prayer, use of individual spiritual gifts, and personal sanctification. I recently came across this in the book Why Small Groups by Sovereign Grace Ministries:

    "The Christian life is inescapably corporate. Teaching on Christian holiness has frequently concentrated almost exclusively on the 'holy man' or the 'holy woman,' to the neglect of the biblical concern for 'the holy people' or the 'holy church.' The ideal of the 'omnicompetent Christian individual,' able to meet every spiritual challenge and live a life of unbroken victory over sin and the devil, has undoubtedly produced remarkable examples of Christian character; but, as every Christian counselor knows, this emphasis has driven many to a lonely struggle ending in despair and disillusionment, or, worse, in the hypocrisy of a double-standard life."

    Small groups are the place where the rubber meets the road. It’s the place where all the things we learn in the various studies and from the pulpit become life applicable. It’s where believers encourage believers in the faith. It’s the place of intimacy where a smaller group of people can grow in trust and share without fear.

    Small groups do not replace Sunday School, but are in addition to Sunday School classes. Some groups meet weekly, others monthly, whereas mine meets every other week.

    *edited to add - my last statement about small groups not replacing Sunday School ... I meant to say that "at my church" they don't. I'm not making a blanket statement.
     
    #17 mercy4all, May 26, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 26, 2011

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