Why Small Groups Are Good

“I used to be skeptical of small groups. I thought it was a bit too faddish, touchy-feely, and created Christian social clubs instead of fostering true discipleship. Maybe some small groups are guilty of these charges. However, on the whole, small groups are a valuable means of helping people in the church.”

This article is taken from ShareFaith.com and is a great resource for why small groups are amazing.

They go by different names—small groups, cell groups, care groups, discipleship, groups, grace groups, breakout groups. Whatever they are called, the basic idea is the same: a small gathering of people interested in spiritual growth. Here’s why small groups are important.

Small groups foster close relationships and integral community. The small group atmosphere is ready-made for building friendships. People talk more in small groups of people. People are quick to recognize needs, and help to meet them. The relationships formed within small groups form a strong fabric within a church. Relationships that are formed outside of the (sometimes artificial) setting of a church service, are relationships that will endure and strengthen over time.

Small groups provide a comfortable introduction for nonbelievers to the Christian faith. I’m skeptical that “inviting people to church” is the best means of evangelism. Most of us tend to fear relationship-forming, especially when it involves sharing our faith with someone. That is a natural and understandable fear. Inviting someone instead to a small group meeting provides a way to involve a believer directly into a community of believers—watching them live out their faith, listening to them pray, hearing them share God’s work in their life, and learning more about the Bible. The nonbeliever is more likely to ask questions, get answers, and form relationships with the believers. Small groups are a powerful missional tool, allowing for the greater spread of the gospel among nonbelievers in the community.

Small groups provide an ideal way to care for the needs of people within the church. When one believer in a small group is struggling financially, emotionally, spiritually, socially, etc., it is much easier for the members of the group to notice and provide help. The structure of a small group is essentially a community of believing friends. Friends should help one another, especially Christian friends.

Small groups provide a way for Christians to live out their faith instead of merely hearing more preaching or teaching. If Sunday morning is for listening, then the rest of the week is for living. Whether it’s discussing the Sunday sermon, talking about a spiritual battle, or simply praying for one another, small groups create a context for Christians to live out their faith in real life.

Small groups participate in focused prayer for one another. Prayer cannot be overrated, but it is often underpracticed. Small groups can better participate in prayer for one another. In one of my small group meetings, each of the people that were present took a few minutes to tell others about their particular challenges or concerns. Then, as soon as he was finished, the person right next to him took a minute or so to pray for him. Small groups make for great prayer meetings.
Small groups provide a comfortable atmosphere for openness. One thing I like about small groups is that we meet in homes. There are at least twenty-six references in the New Testament that talk about believers meeting in homes or being part of a household. (Not all are references in Acts: Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Philemon 1:2). Homes are usually comfortable places—places devoid of pews, PA systems, and stages. They are places where people can open up, listen, learn, and grow.

Small groups allow for mutual edification among believers. It’s easy to depend upon the professionals to give us our spiritual food. According to the Bible, God gives spiritual gifts to all believers, not just the guy who preaches on Sunday morning. These gifts are for the benefit of the whole church. Every Christian should minister to other Christians with his or her gifts. This happens most naturally, effectively, and purposefully in small groups. Plus, we start to realize that other believers face the same problems we do. Edification is at work.

Small groups encourage better learning. Listening to a sermon is a great way to learn the Word, but it is easy to become detached or daydream during a sermon. We become passive listeners. Not so in a small group. When a few people are together, every individual is expected to be involved and to participate. This active involvement is an effective way to learn better.

Small groups provide a source of encouragement and accountability. It’s easy to slip in and out of church unnoticed. It’s not just megachurches where this happens. In an average-sized church of 100 or 150, people may be coming each Sunday service, but not getting involved. These people may need accountability in their lives, encouragement in their walk with God, or help in some way. Small groups provide a way to better meet these needs.

Small groups help to cultivate leadership within the church. Someone has to lead a small group meeting, or at least facilitate the discussion. Unless your entire church is the small group (unlikely), there will need to be leaders other than the pastor. Thus, small groups give opportunities for leadership development within the church.

Does your church have small groups? If not, why not? Beginning a small group ministry may be one of the most beneficial things your ministry has ever done.

God Heals All Wounds

God heals – and He is the great physician and He can heal anyone of any affliction, whether it be physical, mental, emotional, or financial. There are going to be times in your life when you’ll need God to heal you or a loved one, so don’t be afraid to pray to God for the healing that you need.

And little do most people know, but reading the BIble can heal you, too. Maybe the Bible isn’t magical, but it will put you in the proper state of mind to be healed. When you open your mind to positive healing, the most amazing things can happen to you if you have Faith.

Pray to Jesus for a healing because He hears you. Please read our Bible verses and meditate on the on healing you desire to find the extra help you may. Just remember: God’s love heals and it always will.

Exodus 23:25 And you shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless your bread, and your water; and I will take sickness away from the middle of you.
Psalms 103:3 Who forgives all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases;
Psalms 107:20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.
Jeremiah 30:17 For I will restore health to you, and I will heal you of your wounds, said the LORD; because they called you an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeks after.
Matthew 4:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
Matthew 9:12 But when Jesus heard that, he said to them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
Matthew 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely you have received, freely give.
Matthew 14:14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
Acts 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
James 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live to righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed.

The Path To God

This post is by David Mathis of DesiringGod.com and beautifully explains the path to God’s grace. You can learn more about David and his church in the Twin Cities here.

I can flip a switch, but I don’t provide the electricity. I can turn on a faucet, but I can’t make the water flow. There will be no light and no liquid refreshment without someone else providing it.

And so it is, in a limited sense, for the Christian with the ongoing grace of God. His grace is essential for our spiritual lives, but we don’t control the supply. We can’t make the grace flow, but God has given us circuits to connect and pipes to open in case it’s there.

Our God is lavish in his grace, often liberally dispensing his favor without even the least bit of cooperation and preparation on our part. But he also has his regular channels. And we can routinely avail ourselves of these revealed paths of blessing, or neglect them to our detriment.

The Places Where the Grace Keeps Passing

“The essence of the Christian life,” says one seasoned saint, “is learning to fight for joy in a way that does not replace grace.” We cannot earn God’s grace or make it flow apart from his free gift. But we can position ourselves to go on getting should he keep giving. We can “fight to walk in the paths where he has promised his blessings” (John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God, 43–44). We can ready ourselves for receiving along his regular route sometimes called “the spiritual disciplines.”

Such practices are not fancy or highfalutin. They are the stuff of everyday, basic Christianity — unimpressively mundane, but spectacularly potent by the Spirit. While there’s no final and complete list of such spiritual disciplines, the long tally of helpful habits can be clustered into three big groups: hearing God’s voice, having God’s ear, and being with God’s people. Or simply: word, prayer, and fellowship.

These were called “the means of grace” by previous generations. “The doctrine of the disciplines,” says J.I. Packer, “is really a restatement and extension of classical Protestant teaching on the means of grace” (Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, 9). Whatever the term, the key is that God has revealed certain channels through which he regularly pours out his favor. And we’re foolish not to take his word on it.

What “Means of Grace” Means

To put means with grace might endanger the free nature of grace. But it need not do so — not if the means are coordinate with receiving and the exertions of effort are graciously supplied. Which is emphatically the case for the Christian. Here there is no ground for boasting.

The one on whom we lean is “the God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10). He not only elects the undeserving without condition, and works in them the miracle of new birth and the gift of faith, but he also freely declares them righteous by that faith, and begins supplying the flow of spiritual life and energy to experience the joy of increasing Christlikeness.

God’s immense flood of grace not only sees us as holy in Christ, but also progressively produces holy desires in us. It is grace to be forgiven of sinful acts, and grace to be supplied the heart for righteous ones. It is grace that we are increasingly “conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29), and grace that he doesn’t leave us in the misery of our sin but pledges to bring to completion the good work he has begun in us (Philippians 1:6).

For the glory of God, the good of others, and the satisfaction of our souls, the goal of the Christian life is such Christlikeness, or godliness, or holiness rightly understood. And all our exertions of effort toward that goal are gifts of grace.

Train Yourself for Godliness

Yes, it is grace, and yes, we expend effort. And so Paul says to his protégé, “Train yourself for godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). Discipline yourself for growth. Take regular action to get more of God in your mind and your heart, and echo him in your life — this is “godliness.” It’s a gift, and we receive it as we become it.

Paul’s own reliance on God for ongoing grace is a powerful testimony to this means-of-grace dynamic. He says in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “by the grace of God I am what I am . . . . I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” God’s grace didn’t make Paul passive, but supplied the energy for discipline, and every ounce of energy expended was all of grace.

Or Romans 15:18: “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me.” Jesus’s grace didn’t mean accomplishing this purpose despite Paul, or apart from him, but through him. Where does Paul get the power to labor and expend such spiritual effort? “I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:29).

How to Receive the Gift of Effort

This dynamic is true not because Paul is an apostle, but because he is a Christian. So he says to every believer, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” because of this great promise: “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12–13). And so Hebrews closes his magisterial epistle with a prayer for God’s “working in us that which is pleasing in his sight” (Hebrews 13:20–21).

The way to receive the gift of God’s empowering our actions is to do the actions. If he gives the gift of effort, we receive that gift by expending the effort. When he gives the grace of growing in holiness, we don’t receive that gift apart from becoming more holy. When he gives us the desire to get more of him in his word, or in prayer, or among his people, we don’t receive that gift without experiencing the desire and living the pursuits which flow from it.

Lay Yourself in the Way of Allurement

Zacchaeus may have been a wee little man, but he modeled this big reality by positioning himself along the path of grace. He couldn’t force Jesus’s hand, he couldn’t make grace flow, but he could put himself along the path where Grace was coming (Luke 19:1–10). The same was true of blind Bartimaeus (Luke 18:35–43). He couldn’t earn the restoration of his sight, but he could position himself along the route of grace where Jesus might give the gift as he passed that way.

“Think of the Spiritual Disciplines,” says Don Whitney, “as ways we can place ourselves in the path of God’s grace and seek him as Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus placed themselves in Jesus’s path and sought him” (Spiritual Disciplines, 19). Or as Jonathan Edwards puts it, we can “endeavor to promote spiritual appetites bylaying yourself in the way of allurement.”

God’s regular channels of grace are his word, his ear, and his people. So often, he showers his people with unexpected favor. But typically the grace that sends our roots deepest, truly grows us up in Christ, and produces lasting spiritual maturity, streams from the ordinary and unspectacular paths of fellowship, prayer, and Bible intake in its many forms.

While these simple “means of grace” may seem as unimpressive as everyday switches and faucets, through them God regularly stands ready to give his true light and the water of life.