If the Small Group Advisor was going to have a theme verse, it would be Hebrews 10:25*: “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another”.
You aren’t going to find a lot of verses or stories in the Bible in which God encourages us to go it alone. He tells us to rely on Him: Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. (John 15:4) He reminds us we need each other: The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18) and “A cord of three strands is not easily broken“. (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
Has there ever been a more important time for us to encourage each other as we face COVID, political divisions and unsettled economic times? Following are a few items to consider about starting a small group.
Who to Invite: This may require you to step out in faith (I’m no good at leading, I don’t know anyone, what if people say “no” may be running through your mind.) Get creative with this. Are there a group of people you’ve been wanting to get to know better? From your neighbors to your exercise class, your continuing education classmates to your bunko group, the pool is probably endless. Start with a period of prayer of several weeks, asking God to identify people He wants you to invite. Invite prayer partners into this process with you.
How to Organize A Small Group: Acts 2:42 says it all: They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Plan on choosing a study from the Small Group Advisor. Arrange to meet regularly. Include a meal as simple as soup and bread or an easy dessert that group members take turns providing. Pray at the opening and closing of every meeting. The opening prayer invites God into your time together and the closing prayer can be popcorn prayers sent up as you go around the group. NOTE: This is the ideal, post COVID scenario. In the meantime, a ZOOM or Facebook Messenger Video group chat can be just as meaningful and the only piece missing will be the meal.
How to Choose a Study: You aren’t going to find a better source than this Small Group Advisor website. Poll your members about topics of interest or books of the bible and filter by your group makeup: women, men, couples, etc. There are even a few listed under the “New Small Group” filter to get you started.
How to Encourage Commitment: Arrange a fellowship meeting the first time you gather, before you begin a study. Get to know each other through an icebreaker topic such as “why did you want to join a small group?” “What do you hope to get out of this small group?” “Are there any concerns you have about being in a small group?” Make sure everyone understands the importance of regular attendance and doing the between-meeting Bible study work. Nothing will frustrate group members more than differing levels of commitment. Everyone should have a sense of ownership of the health of the group.
So much good comes out of participation in a small group: a sense of being known, the assurance that people are praying for you and the privilege of praying for them, personal spiritual growth, support during hard times and people to celebrate with during good times, the knowledge that you are obedient to the call of God to come together in community, and finally, a closer walk with God who will be with you every step of the way. ” For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them“. (Matthew 18:20)
*All verses cited are from the NIV edition of the Bible.