For over a decade now CrossRoads has had a strong policy of encouraging all members to belong to a small group, indeed one of our descriptors is that we are a ‘Church of Small Groups’. Because of this, in order to hold any significant ministry position at CrossRoads, e.g. service leading, Leadership Team member, musician etc, small group membership is a requirement. So why do we have such a policy, isn’t just coming along to the weekly meeting enough?
The answer to that question is no, and the reason comes back to the Bible. The Bible is the Christian’s and the church’s operating manual and it provides for us principles for a Christian community. For example, even a relatively superficial reading of the letter to the Philippians which we start studying together today will show that the behaviours required of a Christian community simply ‘cannot be done’ at a normal congregational level. This is because God’s design for the Christian community is highly relational, expecting a depth of relationship that just cannot be had with 60, 70, 100 or more people. This should not surprise us because the New Testament churches were house churches, there being several of them in each city e.g. in Philippi—hence the plural leadership terms ‘overseers and deacons’ in 1:1. It is only as a member of a small group that we can deepen and develop the mutually supportive relationships the New Testament indicates.
There are also other reasons for small group membership as our Growth Group Goals make clear. (see the brochure in the foyer) An important one of those goals is the recognition and development of God-given gifts. This is much more likely to happen in a small group with people who get to know us well and with whom we are more likely to show, or they discern, our yet-to-be developed abilities.
Another Growth Group goal relates to Bible learning. While the teaching at our large gatherings is important, it is in the discussions of a small group that most Bible-driven spiritual growth takes place.
Then there is the question of the small group requirement for those involved in the more significant ministries. God expects all Christians to be practicing the spiritual disciplines of Bible study, prayer etc, and so be growing in faith and this most effectively takes place in small groups not on a congregational level. For this reason it is clearly essential that those in significant ministry roles must be in such a group for if they are to ‘give out’ in ministry they certainly need to be ‘taking in’ spiritual food and the best place for this in a small group.
Indeed ‘Small (group) is Beautiful’—for the spiritual health of CrossRoads and each individual—because it is in such a group that most of the spiritual growth God desires takes place, from which CrossRoads ministries flow.