CHRISTIAN BASIS OF SMALL GROUPS
JESUS USED A SMALL GROUP STRATEGY
Jesus devoted himself to a few people and not the masses. He chose a small group at the beginning of his ministry . This group consisted 12 ordinary uneducated men probably in their 20's. Jesus chose to build into a few men a strong foundation so as to change the world . Most of Jesus ministry time was spending time daily with these men. He taught these men to love one another and then to pass on the good news to others. Jesus spending time with these men really showed that he was truly man and God incarnate. He ate, talked, slept, walked, sailed, fished, and prayed with these men. He spent more time with them than anyone else in the world. Jesus felt the need of human fellowship and support. " You are those who have stood by me in my trials" Luke 22:28 Jesus used the apprenticeship model of training his disciples.
THE EARLY CHURCHES WERE SMALL GROUPS
The small group experience of the disciples was used to start the "church" The early church was a small group that gathered to support one another and share the good news with others. Others were attracted to this group (church) because of "their love for one another". This group initially met together daily in their homes, ate together, and praised God together, and others came to join them. Acts2:46-47. The early church mainly met together in homes which would limit the number to a small group.
MANY CHURCHES OVER THE YEARS HAVE USED SMALL GROUPS
St. Francis of Assisi used small groups for prayer, training, and service.
Small groups were used by the Anabaptists, Hutterites, Religious Society of Friends, and Lutherans.
The Methodist revival led by John Wesley was primarily based on the use of small groups for mutual confession to one another (James 5:16), to give encouragement and support in overcoming temptation and in developing a Christian style of life.
The Methodists used "bands" and "classes" led by lay people which met weekly to report on their spiritual progress, needs, and problems, and to receive support and prayer.
Today the church worldwide is exploding through the use of cell groups and the use of recovery support groups within the church.
Reference: Growing Christians In Small Groups , John Mallison , Scripture Union and The Joint Board of Christian Education, Melbourne, Australia.
TYPES OF GROUPS
TEACHING / EDUCATIONAL GROUPS
Examples: Lectures, Bible Studies, Topical Studies, Discussion Groups, Sermons to an assembled congregation
Biblical Examples: Jesus teaching the Beatitudes to the multitudes, Jesus teaching with the use of parables and discussing them with the disciples, Peter and Paul preaching
Purpose: Communicate knowledge and information, Exchanging ideas or thoughts, Studying the Bible or a book
Leadership: Teacher, pastor, or discussion leader
Examples: Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Christian 12 step support groups
Biblical Examples: Jesus sharing and listening to his disciples, New Testament church in Acts, Testimonies of those who had been with Jesus
Purpose: Sharing of personal "experience, strength, and hope", sharing of feelings of joy and hurts, encouraging others by sharing our own stories, mutual support, especially helpful for those recovering from abuse and addictive behaviors
Leadership: Facilitator encourages shared leadership by having various members take turns leading the meeting, the group follows a structured guideline of operation
Group Guidelines: Confidentiality, Make "I Statements", Stay in the "Here & Now", Share Feelings about your "Experience, Strength, and Hope", No Advice Giving, and No "Cross-talk"
PROCESS / THERAPY GROUPS
Examples: Group Counseling, Psychotherapy Groups, Some Growth Groups
Biblical Examples: 'Walking in the Light" as described in I John 1: 5-7, "Speaking the Truth in Love" Ephesians 4:15, Jesus confronting his disciples with love
Purpose: Gaining awareness or insight into ourselves in a safe and healing environment, Receiving "feedback", Serving one another's needs,
Leadership: Trained and experienced facilitator
Group Guidelines: Confidentiality, Use "I" statements, Stay in the "Here & Now", Share FEELINGS, No Advice Giving, Encouraged to give and receive invited FEEDBACK, and No blaming or judging one another.