Small Groups and Community Activities
What are small groups?
Growth Groups are a setting for developing disciples. As such, they have been around in one form or another since the dawn of Christianity. The early disciples laid the foundation for the Church while meeting in the homes of believers in growth groups in order to encourage each other and to spur one another on in the faith.
During the 18th century, John Wesley made extensive use of small groups in his Methodist societies. His followers would meet together in small groups to systematically study the Scriptures and apply them to their lives. These groups effectively built up believers in the faith, drew in newcomers, and assimilated members into the community of faith.
Growth groups have been known by many names in recent years, including Small Groups, Cell Groups, Care Groups, Life Groups, Home Groups, Fellowship Groups, Home Churches, Mini-Churches, and Tribes. Whatever the label, the predominant purpose has been to provide a close-knit social network that enables members to experience love and acceptance while encouraging growth in their relationship with Jesus Christ.
What does the Bible say?
Exodus 18:13-26 describes how Jethro (Moses’ father-in-law) gave Moses instructions to appoint leaders over smaller groups of people rather than trying to do it all himself. This was so needs could be met, no one would be overlooked, and leaders would not experience burnout.
Ezekiel 34:2-8 stresses the importance of shepherding (i.e. caring for the individual needs of) individual members of the flock. Pastors in churches larger than a handful of people cannot do this effectively by themselves, so another method must be used. This method is equipping other members of the Body to minister to each other (see also Ephesians 4:11-13).
Acts 2:44-47 records how the early disciples met together in the Temple for worship and in each others’ homes for building community. In fact, according to some historians, the first church building was not constructed until AD 232. Prior to then, most ministry took place within homes.
Hebrews 10:24-25 instructs us to meet together regularly for the purpose of encouraging each other.
Jesus Himself used a model with His disciples that reinforced the importance of ministry within growth groups. He had times when He spoke to large crowds, but He also took time with just His disciples. Then there were the times He focused on the inner circle of Peter, James, and John.
Throughout the New Testament, unity in the Body of Christ is emphasized over and over again. This unity is best developed by getting people connected in smaller networks of believers gathered together, encouraging and lifting each other up.
The role of small groups at C-road:
At C-Road, Growth Groups are integral to fulfilling our mission as a church:
“Where Love and Community Intersect to help people belong and grow in Christ.”
While our weekend gatherings are valuable for corporate worship, teaching, and evangelism—among other things— Growth Groups more effectively produce disciples. Big change happens in small groups. These groups also allow for expression of each of our four values (though not all equally):
Worship — Music is one viable vehicle for worship, but worship can take many forms within a small group environment. We worship when we pray, look into God’s Word, serve, minister together, live in true Christian community, become transparent with each other, experience life together, and learn to love one another.
Love — As the love of Christ is formed within us, it compels us to serve each other from hearts of humility and grace. Growth Groups provide a plethora of opportunities to serve each other through the activation of our giftedness.
Grow — At C-Road, we intend to make disciples who make disciples. Rather than allowing believers to become stagnant in the faith, Growth Groups aim to spur them on in their walk with Christ, which includes the multiplying of their faith in others.
Community — As you might expect, this is the value Growth Groups align with the most.
Developing significant relationships within the large group setting of our weekend gatherings is difficult if not impossible. There is simply not enough time or opportunity to connect with others on a deeper level. Growth Groups provide a safe setting to experience life together.
What do small groups look like?
A Growth Group is the Church in its smallest unit, including a leader who shepherds the group and members who meet together regularly to worship, serve, love, and grow together. In general, a group is composed of 6-12 people, though some are smaller and some are larger. For the sake of developing true Christian community, most groups are open to all ages and both genders.
Specific groups can be tailored according to the needs and the personnel represented, but a basic template includes: Refreshments (15 minutes), Sharing (15 minutes), Discussion (45 minutes), Prayer (15 minutes), and Dessert (open-ended).
What is the schedule for groups?
C-Road’s Growth Groups operate from September through June, with short breaks at Christmastime and Easter, thereby creating three distinct timeframes (cycles) of 10-12 weeks each.
In September, January, and following Easter, the first three weeks after groups restart are considered no-obligation opportunities for newcomers to test out a group. At the end of each 10-week cycle, members will be invited to give feedback and—if desired—opt to try out another group.
Even through the summer, groups may plan to get together periodically for barbecues, pool parties, road trips, or other community-building activities.
Where and when do groups meet?
Groups may meet in homes, at the church, in office buildings, in coffee shops, outside, or wherever else is convenient. The venue is not the point; community is.
Also for the sake of building community, most groups meet weekly rather than biweekly. ““Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25, NLT).
How can I lead a group?
Contact Pastor Hannah at email@example.com to discuss the possibility, and request a Growth Group manual.