Everyone and anyone can attend a typical worship service, be mentally engaged (if the teacher is worth his weight), be emotionally touched (if the teaching is applicable), and be spiritually grown (if the message is sound). Yet, even if all of these aspects happen, the same “anyone” can come and go without a single personal aspect to claim; a worship service can make people drops in a vast, unknown, unfamiliar ocean. Although this can be helped in many ways, I believe 1 simple way of defeating this dilemma is through small groups. Why? Because small groups offer at least 4 benefits:
1. Community. There’s a camaraderie that comes with being part of a small group that is arguably impossible to attain in a larger setting (no matter how “small”!). The community aspect of the Church is a forgotten art in our individualistic society, and small groups help to facilitate the intended communal aspect of the faith-driven life.
2. Conversation. Honestly, how many times have you had a question or comment that you’d like to make but couldn’t simply because the format made it inappropriate? If you’re anything like me, the answer is often. The conversational aspect of small groups, though, allows anyone to converse on the subject of study, whatever it may be, to gain clarity or even to offer insight from their own biblical knowledge and personal experience.
3. Comfort. It doesn’t matter how nonchalant a worship service is, it’ll never offer the comfortable atmosphere of a small group (that is done correctly). Comfort is important in a small group setting because 1) comfort is invitational and everyone (Christian and non-Christian alike) can and should feel welcome; and 2) comfort is conducive to learning and exploring.
4. Christ. In the end, it’s all for Jesus Christ. We grow in our relationship with Him, with each other, and with our community as we reach out with His love.
There are numerous benefits to small groups, but none of them will ever be experienced without participation. Find a small group that suits you, add to it, and gain from it!