THE PURPOSE OF SMALL GROUPS
The primary purpose of the Small Group ministry is to provide a permanent and consistent structure that is conducive for creating and cultivating relationships. There are five additional purposes that are important—but creating and cultivating relationships is the ultimate reason for the ministry.
Before continuing with a deeper explanation of the purposes, it’s important to understand how the Small Groups ministry fits into our Vision Statement—which is a constant reminder of who we are and what we strive to be. Simply put, we are striving to create and cultivate relationships so that we can better fulfill our Vision.
Our vision is to be Jesus’ family that is united by God’s love and is passionately and prayerfully seeking to Know, Serve and Share Him.
Being a part of a family, particularly God’s family, necessitates that we are bound together by strong relationships. Family is a constant fixture in the New Testament, as it is repeatedly used to illustrate God’s will for the lives of His church. Though there are many others, consider these scriptures in the context of family.
17 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. 18 Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.19 So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.
1 Timothy 3:14-15
14 I am writing these things to you now, even though I hope to be with you soon, 15 so that if I am delayed, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth.
5 Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. 6 But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.
Based on these Scriptures it seems clear that together we make up God’s family or household, and that Jesus Christ is the head of the family. From an appreciation of this reality we are left with the challenge of understanding what a biblical family looks, and is supposed to act like. As we attempt to answer this question there is one thing that we can be certain of: the first century family and the twenty-first century family look and live radically different from one another. It’s not possible, nor would we likely want to live life as a first century family. And while we are not able to transition the cultural norms that defined first-century family, we are able to transition the divinely-instituted values that are embedded into the fabric of all family structures, regardless of what they look like.
For our purposes, we have decided to define and communicate our family values by using the “one another” passages found in the New Testament. So in other words, when we say that our vision is to “be Jesus’ family,” that means we want to consistently and effectively live out the “one another” passages; and by doing so we intend to bring the biblical values of family into the twenty-first century.
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. And at times we have not done a very good job of making this happen. Just consider this, how often have we or do we help one another work through the consequences and burdens that our sins create in our lives (Galatians 6:1-2)? Similarly, it is probably quite rare when we have the depth of relationships necessary for us to feel comfortable confessing our sins to a brother or sister and asking them to pray for us (James 5:16). These are biblical mandates that we often fail to live out. Yet, it’s not for lack of desire. In fact, we often greatly desire to have the relationships that would enable us to share in this manner.
So what is creating this disconnect? Assuming that we do have a desire to share these types of relationships, what is keeping us (as a church family) from turning our desires into purposeful results? Though we may be oversimplifying it somewhat, our answer is found in these two explanations. First, our Western culture has permeated our lives to such an extent that our greatest values are our privacy and individualism. These values are set in direct opposition to the practice of the divinely inspired “one another’s”. For example, to a large degree, it is likely our desire for privacy that makes us uncomfortable with the idea of sharing our personal failures with someone else. Overcoming this obstacle is no small task. It will require awareness and intentional persistence.
The second explanation, more tangible in nature, is the model or structure that we operate within. Church model or structure is another way of saying the way we “do church”. We currently exist within a traditional model that features the use of large and medium-sized groups.