Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Big reasons for small groups

Below are listed some more good reasons for small groups and accountability partners, and why a sermon's not enough to help you grow as a maturing believer, (from the Desiring God Web site...)

(You can meet at someone's house, etc., and not necessarily on a Sunday. One day I'd like to be in a group that eats supper once a week and really talks/shares/listens/studies. These friends could see what John Piper calls "the sinful inclinations" in my life and point them out and pray for me, and I would do the same for them. Don't you think that would be a neat thing to do?)

Today I have 4 guys I can tell anything to and be accountable to, and I do and I am because I've learned it's unhealthy for me if I don't. I'm more comfortable without the isolation; it feels safer, the exact opposite of how I used to feel. I see at least one of them daily and usually talk to all of them by phone, in person or several times a week by mail. Sharing your deepest darkest fears or concerns or hopes or dreams won't work in Sunday school but is necessary, at least for me, with accountability partners. They could and probably often do come from your small group.

Pastors are called to "equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12). But I bet we'd all agree that listening to a sermon is not enough. If Jesus were only a great teacher, we might could learn this stuff by only studying a book or listening to sermons. But Christ asks us to grow in community. Here are the seven reasons Piper listed for the importance of small groups. You can probably think of more.

1. The impulse to avoid painful growth by disappearing safely into the crowd in corporate worship is very strong.

2. The tendency toward passivity in listening to a sermon is part of our human weakness.

3. Listeners in a big group can more easily evade redemptive crises. If tears well up in your eyes in a small group, wise friends will gently find out why. But in a large gathering, you can just walk away from it.

4. Listeners in a large group tend to neglect efforts of personal application. The sermon may touch a nerve of conviction, but without someone to press in, it can easily be avoided.

5. Opportunity for questions leading to growth is missing. Sermons are not dialogue. Nor should they be. But asking questions is a key to understanding and growth. Small groups are great occasions for this.

6. Accountability for follow-through on good resolves is missing. But if someone knows what you intended to do, the resolve is stronger.

7. Prayer support for a specific need or conviction or resolve goes wanting. O how many blessings we do not have because we are not surrounded by a band of friends who pray for us.