This session will conclude our investigation into reasons Christians should participate in some form of small group ministry. Follow the link at the close of the post to download a single file (PDF) containing all four parts of the series.
Group life gives a conduit for free-flowing forgiveness
Unhealthy conflict between parties who rarely see one another may simmer for years, but interpersonal friction within the small group is hard to hide. Disagreements, misunderstandings, and unresolved animosities between a pair of members quickly spread and destroy the group’s unity. The atmosphere of the weekly meeting grows stuffy as other members wonder what changed.
The Expert on forgiveness is God. He desires fellowship with me, but my sin separates us. In a costly plan God sent his only Son, Jesus, to die in my place and settle my sin debt. God now sees me as righteous. He forgave me completely.
Is the infraction my fellow group attendee committed against me greater in scale than the sum total of my sin? If God can forgive me should I not follow His lead and extend the same courtesy to my friend? The cure for misunderstandings is wholesale forgiveness, and forgiveness toward ones we love should be a perpetual stream.
bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
Colossians 3:13 NASB
Group life offers unconditional support
Stuff happens. Anyone can experience one of those “I should have stayed in bed days” where unhappy events compound to erase feelings of joy and accomplishment. Flat tires, lost cell phones, sick children, unexpected expenses—we’ve all been there.
Ministry is messy. Anytime we volunteer and put ourselves on the line for others we become vulnerable, open for attack. Weariness, discouragement, and disillusionment may spring up, and suddenly quitting seems a good choice.
Group life enables each of us to assume the role of cheerleader as we come alongside to comfort and encourage another.
The word translated comfort is used elsewhere to describe the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. To comfort is to console and to strengthen by consolation. Practically we listen, we empathize, or we reassuringly touch the hurting one with a hand on the shoulder or a hug. We demonstrate in that moment, “I understand, and I care.” Often that’s enough.
Therefore comfort one another with these words.
I Thessalonians 4:18 NASB
This is the same word translated comfort. To encourage is to speak the right words and to strengthen. Picture a coach calling a slumping player to the sidelines to admonish him to get his head back in the game.
Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
I Thessalonians 5:11 NASB
An easy way to show support for a hurting group member is to open our home and share a meal. Keep the preparations and the menu simple. The purpose is to comfort and encourage, to sit and talk, to connect with one another, and to share our strength with one in need.
We have so many methods of communication available to us but none have replaced the ages-old practice of sitting at the table to break bread together.
Be hospitable to one another without complaint.
I Peter 4:9 NASB
Group life is marked by humility
Small group is no place for a rock star mentality, and we do not attend group to amass fawning fans. Group mentality is simple – see the other person as more important than I am then act accordingly. The term humility often carries a negative idea—one with little self-esteem who serves as a doormat for others. Combining definitions of the term from several sources reveal surprising qualities of the one who practices humility:
- Free from arrogance
Consider a group with ten or twelve members determined to model humility. Would the meeting be pleasant? Would an open seat in that group be an opportunity to claim?
You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.
I Peter 5:5 NASB
If you would like a PDF combining the four parts of “Why do small groups?” you may download it free using the link provided. Share the file with friends who are not sure why group life matters. I would love to hear your comments and suggestion on the topic. My email address is provided on the CONTACT page.
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