Small group gatherings are not business meetings. They need not have rigid agendas or strict time constraints. Although effective groups often follow set curriculum, there are times when they can take a break from their plans and have conversations about their group’s health.
These five questions can be used together or one at a time. They are designed to help groups’ determine their identity, diagnoses their health and develop a plan for the future.
How can we meet one another’s needs?
Acts is full of stories about Christians finding creative means by which they can meet each other’s needs. Some even sold their properties and possessions.
The small group is the ideal lab in which we can work out what it truly means to love one another as Jesus loved us. If the greatest love of all is laying down our lives for each other (and it is), then meeting the needs of others in our group should be one of our first and highest priorities.
How can we encourage one another?
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
Through their small group experience, people should grow to be more like Jesus. A critical tool for this kind of spiritual muscle building is encouragement for one another. Whether someone needs to be comforted, inspired, motivated or empowered; encouragement from those around them enables them to take the steps they need to take.
What truth can we speak to one another?
Proverbs 12:1 is an encouragement to speak and listen to correction. It says, “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.”
Paul told Timothy that all of Scripture is useful for correction. We all need to be corrected sometimes and we need Scripture to put us on the right path. Submitting ourselves to the discipline and insight of a loving group is a highly effective means by which to apply the Bible’s needed correction to our lives.
How can we encourage others?
As the early church grew, their influence grew. Their focus was not just on each other but on the community around them. They showered their friends and neighbors with the love of Jesus and thousands were impacted, eventually becoming followers of Christ themselves.
A group that only looks inward will never reach its potential. Groups must find ways to become externally focused. Getting out into the world and encouraging as many people as possible will unite and excite the group. Those who serve together, grow together.
Who can we include in our group?
Jesus included everyone, especially those who were inconvenient. God loves everyone, even those who don’t love Him.
Groups need consistency and time to build trust. It’s not always ideal to add new members, so groups need to wrestle with how they can be inclusive. Perhaps they can find creative means by which to include others and demonstrate to them the love of Jesus.
A small group should be a place for people to grow together and grow closer to God. Anyone who commits and submits themselves to a loving community of believers will find themselves being formed into the image of Christ through these relationships.
Like everything else in life, effective small groups take effort. If you are a leader, consider having one or all of these conversations with your group in the near future. They input and ideas you receive from your group will make it well worth the time.