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How to Develop Healthy Small Group Rhythms – Part 1

You can’t do it all in two hours a week. If your small group is going to be growing in the knowledge and love of Christ, developing deep community with one another, and reaching out with the gospel, you must develop rhythms of life that actually make it possible to accomplish our mission.

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One of the reasons small groups often fail to produce the kinds of disciples Jesus talked about is because we tend to view small groups as just another church event. We view them like a Bible study that we attend once a week instead of like a family to which we belong.

SMALL GROUPS ARE A FAMILY NOT AN EVENT

But the Bible describes the life of the early church more like a family than a program. They prayed together, worshipped together, studied together, ate meals together, shared their possession with one another, and evangelized their neighbors together (Acts 2:42-47).

Life together wasn’t a two-hour program once a week. It was an everyday, shoulder-to-shoulder, around the dinner table sort of community. It was a rhythm of life lived together as a faith family. And the results were staggering. The people of God were transformed in community, and “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).

In his book Community, Brad House distinguishes between “Event-Based” community and “Opportunity-Based” community. The former views small groups in terms of a rigid time, place, and content.

For example, we meet on Tuesday nights at Joe’s house and study book XYZ. Event-based community has several drawbacks. First, it excludes those who aren’t able to meet at that particular time. Second, deep community can’t be cultivated in just one meeting a week. Real community happens when we share our lives together. And finally, unbelievers are less likely to come into your community if it only happens once a week in somebody’s home, and is centered around Bible content. House says,

The majority of community groups that I run across meet exclusively in homes. It may come as a surprise to most churched people who are conditioned to this experience, but someone’s home is a very intimate location. Going into the home of someone you don’t know can be very intimidating for the average person. Add to that the fact that they are going into a group of people who know each other well, and that creates a tremendous energy barrier for someone to overcome. Building rhythms that take us into different locations with lower energy barriers will transform a community from a navel-gazing community to one that is engaging the neighborhood around it.[1]

Stay tuned for Part 2 as I share one example of a healthy small group rhythm.

Question:  Why do you think the church has gravitated toward event-based approaches to ministry?


[1] Brad House, Community, 155.

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