There has been this stigma, within Christian culture, around the idea of “big” or “mega” churches. Most people assume that these churches are shallow spiritually and not a healthy place to build relationships. This may be the case with some, however, studies have shown that within some of the largest churches in the world, that would contradict this stigma, there was one consistent key element. This was HOLISTIC SMALL GROUPS.
The truth is, when we look closely at the concept of small groups, there’s nothing small or insignificant about them. The potential in implementing them in our churches is limitless. However, this potential is based on some key elements. This key is within the adjective…holistic. The term holistic, in this context, is simply referring to the reality that people are multi-dimensional and need ministry is all areas. These groups are easiest seen as “church microcosm’s”. This means that you can expect everything that characterizes the church as a whole.
To connect this to holistic small groups, we want the people within these small groups to be nurtured in three areas. We want people to have healthy heads, hearts, and hands. If we look into Acts 2:42-47 we see a blueprint I believe God has laid out for us. In verse 42 it speaks of how the church was “continually giving themselves to the apostles teaching”. For us to have healthy heads we have to be continually giving ourselves to strong biblical study and conversation. We don’t just want to be bible based Christians we want to be bible saturated Christians. Small groups are a great place to have conversations and ask honest questions regarding scriptural truth, especially if someone is new in their faith. This is where having a group of people from different stages in their walk of faith can be so beneficial. People who are stronger in biblical understanding can challenge some of our paradigms while younger believers can help remind us of the simple yet powerful truths. The one point we don’t want to miss within having healthy heads is it must lead to application in our lives and engaging culture with the reality of faith.
Secondly, we want to have healthy hearts. Again, looking at Acts 2:42, it says the believers were also breaking bread together. This is more than just eating together, this is fellowship. This was people being open and transparent about whats going on in their lives. This is a lost art in today’s world of Instagram and Facebook where we portray only the best part of us or what we want people to think we are. We cannot live the Instagram life and grow healthy spiritually. A small group that has a focus on healthy hearts will encourage safety for people to let their guard down and connect with others. It will be a place of healing for people as they open up about hurts, habits, and hangups that they may be going through. Some of the most transformation I have personally experienced and seen in the lives of others have not been in a church building on Sunday morning. They have been in a living room over cups of coffee where Jesus has taken off shame and guilt, bringing restoration. It’s just what the Lord does best.
Lastly, we want people within small groups to be experiencing equipping bringing healthy hands. This is where people are able to identify their giftings, callings, and ministries. They are also able to step out and function within their giftings in a safe atmosphere. Let’s be honest, God doesn’t just want people to receive a word of encouragement or wisdom on Sunday morning only. Healthy hands means that we are also focusing on our mission as Christ followers. We are called to go and make disciples. So, this means that when we are meeting together we are praying for the lost and encouraging each other to do the work of an evangelist and share what Jesus has done for us to the world around us. The goal of the kingdom of God is that small groups wouldnt stay small.
Acts 2:47,”…and the Lord added to them daily those who were being saved.” May this be true in your church and ministry.
Pastor Bryan Pue is the executive assistant at Latitude Ministries. He is also part of the pastoral leadership team at HillCity Church in Abbotsford BC. He is the proud husband to Bonnie and father to their five boys. His passion is to see the church walking in truth and being effective in its mission to make disciples.