The small group is more than a Bible study group. Or a group of people who meet during the week to discuss the Sunday service. It is the life of the Church. Yet, you might not know this, and as a result you find attending a small group an unnecessary burden.
But I can’t blame you. Most small groups are ‘an unnecessary burden.’ They have nothing to offer besides a lifeless recap of the Sunday sermon.
Things get awkward if the sermon was boring, incoherent and unbiblical. You wouldn’t want to say, “I think the pastor didn’t understand the Bible passage.” Instead, you hear people saying they were blessed on Sunday. And you wonder if it’s true.
If this happens more than once, you will probably save yourself the guilt and shame. A you stop attending the small group. How could you continue? Obviously, you’re not growing in the knowledge of Christ fruitfully and effectively.
But before you quit your small group, what if I tell you there are several things you can do to bring your small group to its mandate as the life of the Church? Will you give your small group a second chance?
What is a small group?
Joe Thorn once observed ‘theology is incomplete if it is not both experienced and expressed.’ However, a small group, cell group, community group or home group is an intimate group of people who experience, explore and express theology together.
Hence the expression, theology is best done in community. Small groups offer the chance for you to complete your theology. They also teach you how to make disciples both in word and in deed.
In his new book, Life of the Church, Joe Thorne identified three environments you can make disciples:
- The table: exploring theology with the church
- The pulpit: experiencing theology in the church
- The square: expressing theology as the church
In this post, I will give you 11 ideas for your small group within each environment. I hope these tips will help your small group become more effective in making disciples.
11 Ways To Experience & Express Theology In Your Small Group
The small group is nourished through the faithful presence of God. Your activities when you meet as a group at home, in the park or at a local hospital should enrich your experiences together. And this will help you grow in your knowledge of God, while making you more effective in making disciples.
Here are some idea you may want to incorporate in your small group.
1. Know each other’s story
We all came to the faith in different ways and for different reasons. Importantly, the members of your small group have different backgrounds than you, they grew up in a different environment and probably different culture. Your group might need to have a time where one person may share their life story. When you know each other’s story it becomes easier for you to grow in Christ together.
2. Read the Bible Together
One of the forgotten practices of a healthy small group is intentional Bible reading. This will not take much time or effort. All you need to do is meet over lunch or in the evening then you read a book of the Bible together. The Book of Philippians will take only 15 minutes to read through. You may take turns reading to remind each member of the group you’re in this together.
3. Confess to one another
I know this is difficult to do because you are afraid people may look down on you. Or worse still, your sins might become a subject of church gossip. But when you confess your sins to one another, you admit you need each other. Your fellow small group members might have their own struggles and your confession might open a door to a powerful revival.
4. Pray together
When you know each other’s story and when you confess to one another, it becomes easier to pray together. As you read the Bible, you can afterwards pray over a particular phrase or sentence that touched your heart. If a family that prays together stays together, then a small group that prays together, stays together.
5. Study the Bible together
A Christ-centered Bible study is critical to ensure your small group doesn’t become a pressure group or social activism group. Your group can help you in observing, interpreting and applying the Bible passage you read. This will help you to experience theology. The best way of doing this is for your home group to pick a book of the Bible and study it together.
6. Eat Together
You don’t have to have dinner at a leafy restaurant. Your small group should set aside time to eat together in the park or something. One of my favorite way of encouraging this is to ask your small group members to bring their favorite food. Eating and sharing a meal will help your group learn to live together as a family.
7. Visit one another
This might appear to simple, but it goes a long way. A couple of years ago, a member of my small group visited my wife and I. My wife prepared a traditional Zimbabwean meal. Her gesture built a great relationship between us, and we become a family.
8. Visit the sick
They are many people in your local hospital who never had a visitor. You need to set aside a day per month, if possible, where you visit the sick and talk to them. Hear their story and encourage them where they are. You are the hands and the feet of Christ, therefore you need to let your shine in your community.
9. Give to your community
They are many people who are disadvantaged in your community. Your small group can make a difference by doing a simple thing as sending an orphan to school. Instead of investing in your comfort, you could buy school uniform and pay tuition for only one child at a local school.
10. Read the local news together
Although you’re no longer of the world, you’re still in the world. And it’s your mandate to know how to pray for your community. Therefore, you may want to listen to the news together, and prayerfully discuss how the reports affect your community.
11. Theology at work
You’re a letter written on both ends and a city built on a hill. The world sees Christ through you. Therefore, your small group should take time to discuss how each member can shine the light of Christ at their workplaces. You may organize a potluck at your home and invite your workmates together with the members of your cell group.