Many of you know by now about the emergence of small groups in our church. I say emerging, because those who go through it tend to create a movement that sort of springs forth automatically. Of course, I believe the Holy Spirit impels this movement. Nevertheless, our small group hated to part ways. We formed a spiritual bond that may go forward into the next life. But, a secondary task of the small group lies in its dynamic nature to multiply like a cell. Cellular division wins souls in the same way that Jesus sort of divided himself into 12 men who in turn divided themselves into several thousand. In fact, the division factor essentially lies at the heart of any successful business, industry, or church. Multiplication increases profit, products in demand, and disciples.
Our mentor John Wesley, saw the small group as a necessary redemptive tool. He once opined:
I was more convinced than ever, that preaching like an apostle, without joining together those that are awakened, and training them up in the ways of God, is only begetting children for the murderer. No regular societies, no discipline, no order or connection; and the consequence is, that nine in ten of the once-awakened are now faster asleep than ever.
The prototypical small group, which was the foundation of Methodism, came to be popularly known as a Society. In societies the leaders taught these key doctrines:
1. The perfectibility of humanity vs. Reformed and Calvinistic views of human depravity.
2. The freedom of the human will vs. theological determinism.
3. True religion manifested in human relationships vs. the mystics, who emphasized inner contemplation as the way to spiritual growth.
From the societies came Class Meetings. These groups were a bit more intimate and practical-not quite as theological. The society produced leaders who in turn lead classes.
Mark A. Maddix, professor of Christian Education and dean of the School of Theology and Christian Ministries at Northwest Nazarene University, states:
Certainly we cannot replicate Wesley's process completely, but we can transmit the important principles into our local congregations. Gathering in groups for spiritual accountability can help foster our faith and help us grow in Christlikeness. Being a faithful follower of Christ requires our investment in the journey of others.
And thus, the need for our small groups.
I hope you will prayerfully consider your relationship with a small group. May God greatly bless you as you search your soul about this matter.