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Benefits of Small Group Studies
Small groups and cell groups make a difference
(c) 2006 by Doug Britton, LMFT (Permission granted to print for personal use)
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)
Introduction Benefits of small groupsNote: This study is adapted from the Marriage by the Book Group Leader's Guide.
God never intended Christianity to be a "me, God, and my Bible" lifestyle. The Bible teaches that we also need each other for many reasons.The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one bodywhether Jews or Greeks, slave or freeand we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? (1 Corinthians 12:12-17)Small groups (also known as "cell groups" and "home fellowship groups") are growing in popularity in Christian churches and homes throughout the world as a way for us to make the connections we need with fellow believers. Small group fellowshipswhether focused on Bible studies or on a wide variety of activitieshave a tremendous impact on those who participate.
Reasons why small groups make such a difference
People talk more in small groups.People in a small group, whether based in a home or in the church, are more likely to participate in discussions than in a large class. Since there are fewer people, there is more opportunity to talk and less room to hide.
Group members realize that others face similar problems.People often think there is something uniquely wrong with them. When they hear that others have similar struggles, they feel relieved and encouraged.
People use their gifts and talents to minister to one another.God doesn't expect pastors and teachers to do all the ministering. He has given each of us gifts and talents to encourage, teach, and challenge one another. Small groups provide the perfect setting for Christians to minister one to another.And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24)
Small group members encourage each other in their faith.We strengthen each other's faith. In his letter to the Romans, Paul taught us that when we see the faith in another believer, it encourages us in our own faith.... that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith. (Romans 1:12)
Small group members encourage each other to grow.Regardless of a group's focus or format, after a while people are likely to share personal insights and testimonies. When people share, other group members see new ways they can draw closer to God and new steps they can take with others.
Changing is hard. There is nothing like a word of encouragement when someone feels hopeless or discouraged. Group members support one another, both during meetings and outside them.We can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (2 Corinthians 1:4)
Group members hold each other accountable.If someone announces he or she plans to work on making a change, other members of the group may ask how it went the next time they get together. This can be done in a friendly, informal way. Or group members may make a plan to be accountable to each other.As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)Likewise, when people know they will be meeting with a small group of friends, they are motivated to do their homework and memorize the weekly Bible verse.
Members pray for one another.God honors and answers prayer. When people become connected emotionally, they are more open to praying for one another. Often, group members exchange prayer requests or become prayer partners.For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:20)
People are more likely to practice what they learn.For all the previous reasons, members of a small group are more likely to apply what they learn than those in a large class.
Group members can help each other in hard times.People often feel isolated, alone or abandoned when facing grave health, emotional or financial problems. Small group members can provide a "safety net," supporting one another in hard times.
Friendships start.Many people, including Christians, lack close friends. When people get together in a small group, close friendships form and often remain long after the group ends.
Want to learn more about small groups?Click here for more information about small groups and cell groups.
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Unless otherwise indicated, Bible verses are from the New International Version (1984 edition).