I’m a small group enthusiast. As often as my schedule allows, I enjoy participating in the fellowship of study and support in one of our small group bible studies. Small groups are intimate and rich in the personal sharing which makes studying The Word come alive and which ministers to us outside the confines of Sunday worship.
I’ve discovered that the real value of small groups is often realized later when we encounter challenges and find ourselves stronger, more mature — transformed. I’ve seen it happen, and I’ve experienced it myself, small groups as both the crucible and the catalyst for transformation. Though the change may have been imperceptible as it happened, on reflection, we are not surprised that the steps on the path to growth and change often trace back to small group study. We visualize the faces of group members, recall the words of encouragement which they shared, and hear the echo of the scriptures we’ve hidden in our heart.
We see the work of The Holy Spirit. He has taken
- the time and effort we’ve devoted to study and reading The Word,
- the prayers we’ve prayed and which have been prayed for us,
- the discussions and experiences shared,
- the questions and points of self-examination which challenged us, and
- the efforts we’ve made to put The Word in action in our lives
and made us more — more equipped for the next challenge, more peaceful, and more trusting.
And that’s not just good news for group members. These transformations are also a testimony to how God uses people who serve. Small group facilitators, participants, administrative staff, and the pastors with the heart and wisdom to champion these ministries are all marvelous people playing a part in God’s great plan. All of them work together to edify members individually and, by extension, the church body.
Today was my first day in my new small group. Though I was not able to attend the first session, I bought my book and started my reading, so I would be prepared to participate. On the drive to the group meeting, I realized how much I had missed the weekly study time with my group during the month between classes. I was a member, and that was more than a title; it was relationship. In every group, I’d made new friends and formed tighter bonds with others.
One of the perks of small groups is they make your network bigger: I expected nothing different today. As expected, when I entered the classroom, I saw some familiar faces but also new ones. Introvert that I am, remembering names on the first day is a challenge for me. However, I have learned that conversations and exchanges soon make the names and the faces match. Over time, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and group facilitators, the random mix of individuals eventually becomes membership.
For now, I’m savoring the blessings of being a part of my new small group. For the next twelve weeks, we’ll pray together, study together, fellowship, and encourage each other. We will grow together. And as God works in and through us, we’ll see what transformations are yet to come.