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by Matt Kauffman on June 30, 2020

I’ve heard it many times: “Why do I need to be in a small group; I have my family and church close by.” Or, “If you could only see my schedule, you would know I don’t have the time for another commitment.”

These reasons are all valid and make sense, but are they what God intended? We can go all the way back to the beginning of creation. In Genesis 2:18 “The Lord God said, it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

I believe it is the same today as it was when God spoke those words at the beginning of creation. I look back over my own life, and the moments I remember as being most instrumental in my growth as a person came in the presence of others.

We also can see this modeled in the life of Jesus, while he was here on earth. He surrounded himself with men to disciple and helped to bring out the gifts in each one of them. Many of his disciples were considered men lowly in standing. Through the relationship Jesus nurtured with each one, and the bond developed by being together as a group, they became men of valor.

Small groups are more than a place to come together and socialize. That is certainly a key ingredient of a strong group, but it’s only one of many.

Our community needs to see strong family groups modeled, and what better way to develop and heal than in a safe group environment. Here are five reasons why small groups are essential for your health.

As I mentioned earlier, God’s original intent for us was to live in close relationships. We are designed for a relationship with our heavenly Father, and he also created us to need each other.

I can remember that one of the first times my heart experienced healing from years of shame and fear was in a small group. When we meet in a small group and realize that we’re not the only one struggling in life, it opens the door to a life of freedom.

We live in a culture where we’ve very independent and want to stand on our own two legs. In many ways this can be a strength, but when it becomes our focus we will struggle. We believe that “I can do it alone;” going to counseling is considered a weakness, so we sweep our troubles to the side. This will only lead to one place, and that is isolation.

The definition of ISOLATION is “to be separated or quarantined.” This is very applicable to what we’ve been experiencing over the past four months of the pandemic. Many of us have been under a stay-at- home order and not able to work or go to school.

We can see what this does to our community; we become a people more prone to fear and anxiety. It’s very difficult for us to grow independently of each other. A plant needs water and sunlight to grow. Nature needs many elements for it to grow properly and to thrive. So do we as believers need Christ in us and one another to grow.

We need our close friends and family to encourage us and lift us up during a crisis. I know the times that I grew the most were being part of a safe group and having someone look me in the eye and love me enough to say, “What you need to do will hurt, but you need to face your pain.”

What helped me to then face my pain was to know that I’m not alone. I have a small group of people who will stand by me; I don’t ever have to fear being judged but know they will affirm and help to guide me in the journey.

Accountability is probably a word that you have heard many times if you grew up in the church or played a team sport. The word can have several meanings, but if it’s not in the context of a safe setting, it will not lead to freedom from whatever pain you may be in.

God calls us to love one another, and sometimes it may mean having a loving confrontation. Romans 12:10: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

This statement is so true; we see this all the time on the different social media platforms. When we’re isolated and behind a keyboard, we can type things that would never leave our lips when face to face. God intended us to come together, listen to each other’s stories. and then respond with words that honor and encourage.

When we’re face to face and in a safe group, we can dialogue and be transparent in our weakness. This will help lead us to freedom from our trauma, whatever our past has led us through.

I love sports, as do many of you, and we can get many great analogies from watching team sports. Watching a football game and seeing a great play is never just a one-man show. It takes the team, made up of individuals, each going an excellent job to make the play successful.

We can try to go through life on our own, but we will only go so far. If we continue on our own path, as individuals or families, we will always be the lid to our success. We all need a group of people to lift us up and help take us to those places of healing that we never would have arrived at on our own.

Just as in my marriage, if we aren’t on the same “team,” my wife and I will battle for position. We may be trying to have the same trajectory and the same goals, but if we’re not moving as one, it will always lead to division.

As a small group, we can be that window our community looks through to see the grace of God. We have an amazing opportunity to be a part of something so much bigger than ourselves. Working together, as a Christ-centered small group, will bear great fruit, every time.

Galatians 5:13: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

Small groups are a great opportunity to use our gifts to serve one another, not out of a sense of duty but love. Too many times we’re full of words but not actions. This world is looking for displays of God’s goodness; they are searching for a sense of peace. We carry the Prince of Peace, and what better way to display hope than in the context of a group out serving the community.

There are many practical ways we can serve, whether it’s at a woman’s home, providing entertainment in a retirement home, or taking meals to a family in need. Your local church, be it at Petra Church or elsewhere, has many opportunities for you to serve.
Serving in the context of a small group can be so rewarding; we accomplish much more together than doing it alone. As a group you can make a large difference in a short amount of time, and isn’t time what we all need more of?

These are my Five Reasons Small Groups are Essential for Your Health. This comes out of my years of experience, whether in a group or not. I know that many of you may fear joining a group because of the unknown.

One way to begin your small-group journey may be to invite your friends for a discipleship study. Invite those with whom you already have a relationship. This will enable you to move past one of the largest hurdles in small groups – relating to and getting to know new people.

We have an awesome opportunity to be a part of the solution our world needs. We carry within us the Prince of Peace who wants to redeem, reconcile, and heal our community. We can do this together, in a small group, being the church God designed it to be.



Tags: community, freedom, small groups, healing, accountability, isolation, relationships, together, proximity

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