I love small groups. But.
One of the great privileges I have is leading a small group at church. I love it. Small groups are great for many things. They are great for Bible studies (although finding good material can be a struggle – see tomorrow’s post). They are good for evangelism. They are good for developing meaningful relationships where we can encourage one another with the gospel and speak the truth in love. They are superb places to pray in informed and honest ways for one another. They are good for singing. It’s a great opportunity to share a meal. Small groups are brilliant for pastoral and practical care. And more.
We can overreach. A small group is not a church. A small group Bible study is not preaching. A prayer time is not the church gathered to pray together. It is not an insular group that never serves others in the congregation.
In other words, it’s quite possible to overstate the purpose and role of the small group. They are, of course, a relatively recent phenomenon in the church. We should thank God for their development, but the relative newness of the idea should make us cautious about loading all our ecclesiological eggs into this basket.
Small groups are brilliant. But they are not church.