A number of years ago a small European church outside of one of the continent’s major cities decided that it had to do something significant for the Lord. The church was stagnant. No one had been baptized for years. If the present trend continued, the church had little future.
The pastor and his church board earnestly prayed and carefully considered what they might do.
As they studied the New Testament, they decided to establish a small group ministry. Nine lay people in the congregation caught the vision. They committed themselves to pray together and study how to establish their small group ministry effectively. Soon they decided to make each of their homes an evangelistic center. The groups learned to exercise their gifts in various ways. They launched prayer and hospitality ministries. They developed friendships in the community. They reached out in acts of kindness to their family, friends, and to former Adventists. The small group leaders began Bible studies in nine homes with forty guests in attendance. They were amazed at what the Holy Spirit was doing. Eventually seventeen of the forty were baptized. The testimony of that small, stagnant church is that small groups make an enormous difference. They are one of God’s means to involve multiple church members in the mission of the church.
In class, discuss further the essential elements in each small group as outlined in Thursday’s study. What other kinds of activities could a small group be involved in? What are ways in which a small group could help those with special gifts really be able to use those gifts as never before?
Why is it so important that small groups keep an outward, mission focus? That is, however much a group can help nourish and support its members, why must it always keep central to its purpose the spreading of the gospel? Why, too, should a small group always keep connected with the local church body? Why is that so important?
Have you ever been a part of or heard of small groups that did not function effectively and eventually died out? Discuss the reasons why you think this might happen.
Think about the story above, about what happened in Europe with the small group ministry. Why do you think it worked so well? What did they do that was, in many ways, so simple and yet so effective? Why, too, might working from the “safer” environment of homes, as opposed to a church building, be an effective way of beginning an outreach to the neighborhood or community?