Monday, October 15, 2012

Marks of Healthy Small Groups

Rick Warren on Healthy Small Groups:
1. Healthy small groups study the Bible. Small groups in the New Testament studied the Bible together. Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching …” Of course, we know the teaching of the apostles is what we call the New Testament today. They lived in an oral culture, but they were still studying lessons from the apostles....
2. Healthy small groups share life together. The Book of Acts says the early believers were devoted to fellowship (Acts 2:42). This means they were serious about their friendships. Notice the Bible says they were devoted to the fellowship, not just to fellowship. In other words, fellowship is not just something the church does; we are the fellowship.Jesus calls us to be committed to one another, and it is through small groups that we learn the skills of relationship. Small groups are laboratories of love, where we learn to obey the command of Jesus to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
3. Healthy small groups remember Jesus together. The Bible says the early believers devoted themselves “to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). The “breaking of bread” in this passage specifically refers to Communion (or the Lord’s Supper). In the early Church, they did not take Communion in a large worship setting. They served it in small groups.
4. Healthy small groups pray together. The Bible says the early believers devoted themselves to prayer (Acts 2:42). Jesus taught that there is a power to prayers spoken aloud for each other, and he made an incredible promise about small groups of believers: “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (Matthew 18:20 NASB). In the intimacy and confidentiality of small groups, we can pray for each other as we share our hurts, reveal our feelings, confess our failures, disclose our doubts, admit our fears, acknowledge our weaknesses, and ask for help.
5. Healthy small groups are generous. The Bible says these small groups gave “to anyone who had need” (Acts 2:45 NIV). Small groups allow us to help each other with practical needs. Can I loan you a car? Can I provide you with some meals when you are sick.
6. Healthy small groups worship together. The Bible says the New Testament small groups worshiped together, “praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people” (Acts 2:47). We need to worship God more than once a week, and small groups offer an opportunity to worship together.
7. Healthy small groups witness together. As these small groups met together, “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). They were inviting others to join them. One of the proofs of a healthy small group is that it reproduces, so a small group may add members, but a small group may also help start another small group.
I cut out some material specific to Warren's Saddleback Church. You can read the whole thing at the link.

Hat Tip: Rick Ianniello