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Monday: Small Groups in Scripture — 19 Comments

  1. I mentioned recently the road building/renovation of a major national highway that took place near us recently. There were hundreds of workers involved but most of the work was accomplished by small groups, each with a task to perform. There were groups who built bridges, others who recycled the old concrete roadbed, another group placed the traffic barriers, and so on. The key to the success of these small groups was that each was assigned a task to do and they had to do it in such a way that the whole workforce worked together.

    While there is a fair push for us to consider small groups in our church/spiritual life we need to think about it a bit otherwise it will fall into the "good idea at the time" basket. I have a long enough memory to remember when large churches were considered a really good idea too. Not too far from where I live I know of a number of churches that were closed to form large vibrant churches, only to discover that the idea wasn't such a good idea after all.

    The small groups that get a mention in today's lesson were often part of a larger cohesive plan. Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, would have made a good software engineer. He saw the advantage of spreading the responsibility and ensuring that small group issues were solved locally quickly. But, there was a framework for these small groups to operate and that was a major factor in the plan's success.

    I am not saying that there is not a place for ad-hoc small groups, but such groups work most effectively when they recognize a sense of belonging to a higher power.

  2. One of the purposes and benefits of small groups that are lead by a counsellor is spiritual growth. In reading the gospels I noticed the times that Jesus had to develop different disciples in their beliefs and opinions, He did this without quenching the enthusiasm they had in being part of His kingdom.

    My experience of being in a small group has taught me to curb my inclination to point it out when I believe someone, or even the study guide, is wrong. I have learned that simply sharing in a positive manner what I have discovered is received as being helpful by others and it promotes dialogue instead of a negative debate.

  3. Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. Ex 18:21

    I believe the types of small groups Moses were called to formed was different types of small groups than we are called to form today. Those groups were for dealing with civil matters. The groups we are now called to form is similar to the groups the disciples were called to form. That is- To spread the gospel, baptize and make disciples of all men. The 1st small group were the twelve disciples in Matt 10:42 and Mark 6:6-13. The other time he sent out the seventy disciples was in Luke 10:1-20. The Bible says can two walk together except they agree. The disciples had a bond and agreed with each other in the gospel causing them to be used by the Holy Spirit. After Christ departed from the earth, Peter and John were traveling partners. Paul had his traveling group. For any group to be successful, Christ must be leading.

  4. Small group work well for bible study where everyone can have a voice and feel comfortable sharing. This promotes spiritual legs and the right energy if led by able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.

  5. For me, the most important "small group" of all is the family circle, especially the circle that contains people in the same house! Perhaps reinforced by those who orbit just around, either by blood ties or not. This small group has to be focused on Christ! When this group has Christ as the ultimate goal, the members of this group are certainly happier, and maybe this "contagious cell" can permeate others!

  6. two are better than one because they have good reward for their lobor.eccl 4:10 kjv can two work except they are agree amos 3:3 kjv.this small group is work to get good reward;because they want to win the lose soul.

  7. I like a small prayer group. When prayer requests are shared in a small group, it's more likely that the people in your group will remember your specific prayer requests and will follow up with you.

  8. JC you said- you see a ‘small group’ as the family of one household. But what will happen if only one person is converted to the truth in the house-hold?

    I believe because they disciples spent so long time together as a new family; they ate, drank and slept together, they got to know each other in likes and temperament. They disciples had their arguments and disagreement just like us. Matt 17:14-20. Some were easy going and some were quick to act. I believed Jesus paired them according to their temperament.
    Then after Jesus returned to heaven, there were 120 people in one building who spent 10 days discussing their likes, dislikes, problems, asking for forgiveness, making all wrongs right (the Holy Spirit was working on them and in them). Ten days after, they were cleansed and the Holy Spirit came. Then they were filled with the Holy Spirit to do the work through them, as a result they were able to do a great work for Jesus. Trials and tribulations came on then when they were so comfortable in Jerusalem (Saul reaped havoc in the church to scattered them elsewhere). Small groups scattered everywhere to take the gospel to others.
    Do we think the Lord used the COVID similar to the way he used Saul in the early church/temple? That is; leave the physical building and go out to the community whether in person (safe), or virtually?
    Are we missing something as a Church???

  9. Small groups work as long as they work with the purpose of lifting up all members of the Church. When small groups turn into "clicks" and they work independently, not taking into consideration the needs of the entire Church problems occur.
    Sabbath School groups can quickly become "clicks" were one teacher is preferred to another. This is why Ellen White suggested that teachers need to be replaced every 3 years. Rotating teachers is another idea. Resistance to this shows that the Church has a lot of growing up to do.

    • Laura you couldn’t have said it better. People resort to cliques all over the church, from so many departments. But how do we determine a meaningful spirit led group from a clique? Answer- when they alone have the answer for everything and the do not allow any outsiders to join or make suggestions for the group. If someone tries, they are met with opposition. The group rotates its members positions.

    • Laura, I totally agree. I was thinking about this as I read the lesson. It’s like our body, all parts of our body work together for the good of the whole body. An autoimmune disease is when our body fights against itself, destroying the whole body. I have seen this happen to a few churches, and sadly, I see it happening to our larger church body.
      My husband and I are fortunate enough to belong to an incredible Sabbath School class. We have discussed amongst ourselves as a class, how can we help this leak out into the whole church? Then COVID-19 hit and now we’re more secluded than ever. We have our weekly class time via Zoom, but as a church body, there is really not much interaction. Unless intentional effort is made, churches could lose the togetherness that we once had. Small groups are more important now than ever before.

      • Could we say that if a church, in this COVID environment, loses its "togetherness", that perhaps, it was never "together" in the first place? We all have kept in touch with those we were together with before COVID. Distancing has made it easier to forget those we were not close to before this all started.

        How many pastors/elders/members have made a real effort to keep the congregations in close contact during this time, making sure that those who were more isolated before don't get completely lost at this time?

        One clear fact is that our congregations at any level(church, conference, union, division, world) have become polarized over many issues, and we, out of necessity have gathered with those of like mind to help support and sustain our "faithfulness" to our side of these divisions/issues. Most avoid close contact with the "other side", yet this makes reconciliation almost impossible with this self-imposed isolation. It's just difficult to study together with most who have a strong opposing opinion, so most will shun this.

        As for worship services, they are now reduced to a sermon posted live or to be viewed later. This is better than nothing, but interaction is eliminated, and the gathering for worship non-existent as a whole. I learned years ago that while a video will allow many to see a good presentation, it doesn't come close to a live, personal presentation, where you can interact with the one teaching/preaching/demonstrating. When giving our public health classes, the group showed more interest in the live presentation by lay people more than they demonstrated in the video presentations by well-known persons.

        It will take "second-mile" effort to keep congregations from separating further at this time. Perhaps our faith or unbelief is being exposed in these circumstances? Maybe we are just realizing how important small groups are, and have always been?

  10. Matt.22:37 ; Luke 10:27 ; Mark 12:30 - How do we teach: "And thou shalt love the Lord they God with all they heart, and with all they soul, and with all they mind, and with all they strength: this is the first commandment."?
    Gal.5:22+23 - Can we be taught compassion, kindness, love, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
    Yes, it will grow out of our ever-closer love-relationship with the Father. How can we learn to trust and love the Father and His Son, our Saviour, also including the Comforter, His Holy Spirit?
    Ezekiel 36:26; 2Peter3:17,18 - "But grow in Grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be Glory both now and forever, Amen."

    I see the small group to be the nucleus of the family of believers - we are at different stages of our spiritual development. Just like our personal family, we have different personalities and preferences, different 'ages' of maturity, but all need a firm foundation of Faith. The small group setting prepares us to comfortably interact with 'community' at large.

    For some years now, I have a vision about spiritual 'learning'. Please, allow me to share my vision with you:
    The true aim of small groups is to effectively establish understanding how to mature and apply Faith! We do not learn ABOUT Faith; we learn HOW TO APPLY Faith. Our learning is not aimed at accumulating knowledge, its core aim is APPLICATION of understood Truth through Faith!
    Scripture points out leadership qualification - which is the well-established life by Faith - intellectually understanding as well as applying spiritual Truth in our everyday life through Faith. Under good leadership, small groups can be as active and involved in various causes and services as their members chose. At times, they may join ranks with other groups to facilitate greater projects.
    Ideally, I see us come together on Sabbath only for full, whole-hearted Worship, Praise and Fellowship! Singing, praising God and testifying how His Grace has moved in our personal life as well as the life of the small group, and sharing the fellowship-meal with each other in the larger body of the family of believers.

    Yes, "Small groups (need to) provide opportunities for warm, caring fellowship, spiritual growth, and problem solving;" which will foster healthy outward growth to testify to the Love of the Father for his children.
    Mark 3:13-15 - choosing the right 'leaders/guides' is most important toward healthy, spiritual growth within the small group. Spiritual growth equals Soul-growth; we are a spiritual Soul living in a physical world. We have been given the living Water and the Bread of Life to nurture us! This is the medium we are planted in; everyone's true Teacher is the Holy Spirit of Truth and Love.
    The Spirit of Truth and Love must be at the heart of all that is presented in a small group setting.

    'Preparing the ground': Selection of faithful, skilled leaders, choosing study themes based on the needs of the participants in a particular group and fostering a non-judgmental environment. All this is of paramount importance for the Holy Spirit to develop spiritual healing, growth in the faithful participant. (Group-themed settings may remain the same and the attendees go to join other groups as 'needed', or the group stays the together and grows together into maturity.)
    Rom.8:28 - Each group-'class' begins at the same 'level'; how to strengthen our faith-love-relationship with the Father and our Saviour Jesus Christ; sharing how we learn to listen and trust the Holy Spirit of Truth for His guidance - fostering/developing trust between the Father and his children.
    Heb.13:5,6 - ... "So that we may boldly say, 'The Lord is my Helper', and I will not fear what man shall do unto me."

  11. Today’s lesson states: “Jesus’ purpose in calling the disciples was to prepare them both spiritually and practically for their mission to the world... The purpose of Jesus’ small groups was both spiritual nurture and outreach.”

    I would like to hilight that true spirituality is also practical and that nurture and outreach are in fact inherently inter-related elements of that true spirituality. God’s truth is the truth of how abundant life operates, who alone is its Source and Sustainer - and of how to be reunited with that abundant life (John 1:4; 10:10).


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