This blog is the second part of two blog posts related to small group ministry at Emmanuel Church. To read part one click here.
4 Dos when it comes to small group ministry
1. Use the small group
In my experience, you get out of small group what you put into it. Avail yourself of all that a good small group can offer. Use your small group as a platform for community, fellowship, Bible study, and prayer in the church. Develop intentional relationships with the people in your small group. As most small groups meet mid-week, seek to view small group as a special gift from Christ to your needy soul as you labor through a busy week. I have often found small group to be like an oasis in which I get to focus my thoughts and affections on Christ and his body. This is so necessary especially when you find yourself in the middle of a difficult week.
The Bible does not require that the church organize a small group program. However, if your church offers small groups, make them part of your weekly/monthly rhythm. Use these opportunities to lean in to life among the church body.
Small groups can serve many good purposes, but I think one of the very best uses of the small group time is for prayer. The small group environment is a context in which more intimate personal prayer needs can be shared. If a small group is limited to 10-15 people, it’s quite possible that every individual can share prayer requests. Not only that, depending on how the time is structured, it’s possible that almost every individual in the group can pray for someone else. Small groups also accommodate a natural environment for pursuing continuity in our prayers. It makes it easy to follow up on previous prayer requests that have been shared and to bring the same issues before the Lord on a consistent basis.
If your small group makes prayer a part of your regular meetings together, let me encourage you to consider designating someone to keep track of prayers that have been shared in the group that God has answered. As a general rule, we do not thank God for answered prayer as much as we should,
3. Open up
Most small groups are designed to provide some opportunities that corporate gatherings simply can’t provide. It is unlikely that every member of the church will get to speak in a worship service. It’s unlikely that every member will get to pray or share a prayer request at a corporate prayer meeting. In small group however, everyone can voice a prayer request, an edifying comment, or a thoughtful question.
Since facilitating intimacy among the group is one of the goals of small group ministry, don’t be afraid to be intimate. Open up with your brothers and sisters. Talk about what Christ is teaching you in your Christian walk. Talk about things in your life that are difficult or challenging. Share encouragements from God’s Word. Avail yourself of the opportunity to open up to your brothers and sisters in Christ.
4. Don’t lose sight of the goal
A church I used to be a member of summarized the goal of their small group ministry as pursuing growth together. I think that’s an excellent summary of how small groups ought to be utilized in the life of the church. It should be recognized that this mission is not exclusive to small group ministry, but would apply also to corporate gatherings, Sunday school classes, one-on-one discipleship, etc. However, it ought to be stated nonetheless that this is indeed the goal of our small groups. We are seeking to grow together in our knowledge of God and His Word. We are seeking to grow alongside one another as followers of Christ. An effective and healthy small group ministry will never lose sight of this goal.