4 benefits of a small group
As much as I love gathering with the whole of the local church for corporate worship, there is something powerfully unique about a small group gathering around in a small classroom, living room, or across a dining room table that forces us to think differently than when we are in a big room for worship.
For the last 6 years, I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of a small group pouring into an awesome group of young ladies from the beginning of their 7th grade year to now their senior year. Do you know what happens when you get a group of teenagers in a room to discuss life and the Gospel?
Lots of talking. And questions. More questions than you can imagine. Why? Because if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough, we realize we need each other. Sometimes life can be confusing, and we face circumstances beyond our control and in this small group we can be there for one another, pray for one another and lift each other up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 tells us, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” The author is writing about the vanity of trying to work alone as a means to outdo another. But laborers aren’t the only ones who benefit by working together. Two are also better than one as we live out our faith in Christ. We really need each other, though we often try to go at it alone. We really need reproof and instruction, though we seldom seek it out. This is why discipleship is so important!
From our years of being in a small group together and getting the chance to live life together, we’ve learned so much about each other and ourselves. Here are 4 benefits I’ve found in having discipling relationships and being in a small group:
- They unite us with fellow believers. The body of Christ isn’t meant to simply exist for us to gather together on Sundays and then move along with our lives the rest of the week. God’s Word paints a picture of believers doing life together [Acts 2:44-47]. Seeking counsel and discipleship is one way to invite others into your life. Most of the time people won’t know the details of your life unless you are willing to share with them. Being willing to be discipled by others provides an opportunity for prayer and mutual encouragement.
- They help you develop deeper friendships. When people know you, and I mean really know you, your life becomes far more transparent, including your sin. Others learn to read you and will call you out for those sins, creating opportunities to deal with real life difficulties as the surface. This is part of what we should expect from good friends. Deeper friendships can also double as accountability. We need accountability in our lives and encouragement in our walk with the Lord.
- They equip us with faithfulness. Paul tells us in Titus 2:3 that older women in the church should teach what is good and train the younger women. They are to equip other women in how to walk in step with the truth of the Gospel. And this isn’t a suggestion – it’s God’s instruction for how we should relate to one another. This is discipleship 101. It’s yet another proof that we need each other. We can’t obey the commands in Titus 2 without being willing to be discipled (and being available and willing to disciple others).
- They build humility. Our temptation might be to think we know what is best for ourselves. We think “we know ourselves better than anyone.” Scripture says that we might actually be more confused than we think. The heart is deceitful and so to trust yourself at all times is probably not the best route to take [Jeremiah 17:9]. Wise counsel from a friend, pastor or spouse could be just the thing God uses for our protection.
Proverbs says that a wise man will hear and learn and will acquire wise counsel [Proverbs 1:5]. So we can safely assume that an unwise man will not hear from others, will shut them down and will not listen, will lack understanding and will not acquire wise counsel. We need to resist the temptation to be wise in our own eyes [Proverbs 3:7]. This isn’t so easy! But, as we seek to gain understanding, we must first acknowledge that we don’t always know what is best.
I’m thankful for all that God has taught me through this small group. I’m thankful for all the laughs, tears, love, heartache and transparency that has taken place over the years. While I went into teaching this small group thinking the girls could learn from me, I’ve actually learned so much from them.
As they prepare to graduate this year, my prayer for them is that they always seek God first. That they will have a desire to unite with fellow believers, develop deep friendships that help encourage them and keep them accountable, that they remain faithful to God’s Word and always stay humble.