By Susan Hill
Small groups play a vital role in discipleship because they are the place where believers have the opportunity to come together and build close relationships within the context of the local church. In a perfect world, every church member would be an active member of a small group. But maybe you’re still on the fence about joining one. Here are five ways to know if you need to join a small group:
- You want to study the Scriptures at a deeper level. One of the primary benefits of participating in a small group is studying the Scriptures with other believers. In a group study, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from other people, ask questions, and discuss how to apply the Bible to daily living. Also, you’ll probably study portions of Scripture that you might not read on your own. As Christ-followers, we should have a growing knowledge of the Scriptures, and one of the most practical ways to grow in our understanding of the Bible is to study among a community of believers.
- You long for community. It’s often been said there are no “lone rangers” in the Bible. God designed people for community, and it’s impossible to become the person He created us to be apart from the local church. Being an active member of a small group provides the opportunity to build relationships with other believers. If you commit to being an active member of an ongoing small group, over time, there’s an excellent chance you’ll meet many of your closest friends there.
- You want a place to serve in your community. Many Christians want to serve in their community but don’t know where to start. Small groups provide an excellent outlet to locate needs in the town you live and serve in those places. Areas to serve might include local homeless shelters, soup kitchens, non-profits, hospitals, nursing homes, universities, or anywhere in your community where there’s a need. As Christians, we are called to love God and our neighbors (Mark 12:30-31). Our communities should be better off because of the presence of the local church. Small groups serving together in the community are an excellent way to achieve this.
- You want friends who will pray with you. We all need prayer. Being a part of a small group means you already have a group of believers in place who are willing to pray on your behalf. In most small groups, there’s a time for people to share prayer requests. As you become familiar with people in your group, you’ll share phone numbers and email addresses. When something comes up during the week, and you need someone to join you in prayer, you’ll have a group of people to contact.
- You want brothers and sisters in Christ who will be there for you through thick and thin. No one joins a local church with the intention of falling through the cracks. Everyone longs for a place to worship in the local church where they know people and are known by others. Attending worship on Sunday mornings is a crucial part of the Christian life, but involvement with our church family shouldn’t be limited to one hour a week. In many churches, it’s easy to come into a worship setting on Sunday mornings and leave without being seen or speaking to anyone. A small group is the best place to nurture deeper relationships. Small groups allow believers to genuinely get to know one another and build relationships that last through every season of life.
Susan Hill is a writer, Bible teacher, and full-time editor at Lifeway. She is the author of Dangerous Prayers: 50 Powerful Prayers That Changed the World, as well as numerous devotional books. She and her husband John live near Nashville, TN with two unruly Golden Doodles.