Part 1 and Part 2 of this four-part series provided seven reasons for participating in a small group ministry. The New Testament presents a series of obligations believers have to one another tagged by the phrase “one another”. Meeting in smaller groups facilitates connecting with others to put these behaviors into practice. Part 3 continues with four additional characteristics of small groups.
Group life provides a safe place for confession.
When two lift together the weight seems lighter. As a group develops into a loving community members are freed from struggling alone. The burdens life channels our way and the personal battles we wage with sin may be shared with others in the group. How pleasant when friends draw near to encourage, assist, and coach us.
Share our burdens
The word burden implies heaviness, weight, or a specific trouble. In a large group, such as a worship service, etiquette and tradition may not allow sharing these experiences and requesting help. The smaller group, with a focus on caring for one another, does support opening our hearts and sharing the load.
Burdens revealed in group may be intensely personal such as a crumbling marriage or a straying child. Members must respect the trust and confidence placed in the group by the one sharing. Safeguard the information, and be circumspect in any discussion of the matter. Whatever is shared in group must stay in group.
Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2 NASB
Confess our sins
Fear of being skewered publicly prevents many Christians from revealing their hidden struggles. Confession ushers in a necessary level of accountability and opens the door for prayer as well as personal support. Transparency in group life makes us vulnerable, but seeking help from trusted friends moves our battle from the shadows to the light and rallies our allies around us.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:16 NASB
Group life teaches me to practice kindness.
Contagious kindness spreads through a group when each member determines to be pleasant and helpful. The families represented will experience a blessing, and the church which is made up of all the groups will reap a benefit.
- Words – Exercise care with the tone of voice and caution in choosing words. This practice is foundational to kindness.
- Thoughts – Consider others and how best to be of benefit to them.
- Actions – Thoughtful words may reflect kindness, but deeds demonstrate it.
Genuine kindness does not keep score or display concern for credit or applause. Kindness is its own reward.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32 NASB
Group life facilitates praise and worship.
A small group is a functional team within the larger church body. The team exists to bring honor and praise to God through the group’s actions.
Life stresses may obscure my view of the blessings in my life or even squelch the praise flowing from my heart. Joining others and listening as they share praises may be the catalyst I need to restore thanksgiving to my heart.
Praising together strengthens the bond of the group and refocuses attention vertically, on God, rather than horizontally, on one another.
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16 NASB
Group life promotes mutual submission.
In the heat of living I can lose perspective. I may miss the path to victory and sink in a pit of discouragement. Fresh eyes on the problem can turn the tide. Allowing a close friend the freedom to offer candid insight may be the solution but too often my pride stands as a barrier. I’m unwilling to submit and reluctant to admit he may have wisdom I need.
Submission is commonly dismissed as an anachronism, a practice that applied in male-dominated societies of ages past. Not so. The word describes a healthy self-choice. I voluntarily place myself under another.
The word submit conveys the idea of following, allowing another to lead. Perhaps I see the other person as a source of wisdom and guidance. His track record is proven, and his concern for those under his care is evident. I don’t have to be the leader. I’m free to follow and make substantial contributions in that role.
To be in subjection means to accept another’s admonition or advice. While carrying a heavy burden I pause to consider resources outside myself that might bring relief or at least strengthen my resolve to persevere. The one to whom I submit has a different perspective on the issue and can remain objective while counseling me on the next steps.
And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:21 NLT
Next time we will conclude this study of small groups as we consider three additional aspects of group life.
- Group life gives a conduit for free-flowing forgiveness
- Group life offers unconditional support
- Group life is marked by humility
I would love to read your comments on how group life has impacted you. And remember you can sign up to receive new posts via email. The service is free.