Ruth and I have become part of a small group that meets every week for prayer, and Bible study. We begin our hour and fifteen minutes together with music, then pray for each other’s needs and finish with study in the Gospel of John. What makes our Bible study a joy is that we spend most of our time discussing the applications of the text to our daily lives and spiritual condition. Everyone’s opinions are appreciated and the collective wisdom and insight of the group draws us all closer to God and each other.

So, why am I telling you this? It’s because I believe that becoming involved in a small group is one of the best things a person can do for their spiritual growth. Research shows that people who attend a small group are happier, read their Bible more, pray more and are more involved in service to the community and church than people who don’t attend. Small groups are where we learn because it is where we can talk openly and share our inner most thoughts, fears and hopes in a safe setting. People who attend small groups often mention that their fellow group members feel like family and they pray for each other and encourage each other on a daily bases.

If your church doesn’t have a small group ministry then, maybe you should think about starting one; it isn’t difficult. All you need is someone to open his or her home once a week. Our pastor has a group that meets in the late afternoon, and the one I go to meets in the evening so the time that is best for most of the people who would like to attend is the best time to hold it. Then you find a few people who would like to get together and the next thing you know you have a small group. And don’t worry about the number of people who will attend because if the people are learning and enjoying themselves they will invite their friends. Your problem over time will be that your group will become too large and then you will need to spin off a number of people to form a new group.

I should say that not all groups want to focus on Bible study exclusively. I have friends in one city who meet to pray for people and they see their group as chiefly intercessory. Another friend is in the process of forming a group that revolves around the Bible and it’s application to their life in their city.

So what if you aren’t connected to a church, you don’t know much about the Bible, or you don’t know many spiritually minded people; how will you get a group going? To me this is the most exciting opportunity for small groups. Phone a few friends and see if they would like to get together and read the Bible. Find a book, like the Gospel of John, bring a few friends together and see what you will discover. You don’t have to be a theologian or an avid Bible student to read the Bible together and enjoy the conversation and insight that will spring out of the readings.

In a nutshell, small groups help people grow spiritually, ask questions and share life experiences they might not feel comfortable expressing in a church setting. Small groups give us an opportunity to make new friends and cultivate habits of prayer and study that transform our outlook on life. Small groups help us to realize that there is more to life than work, weekends and death. Through small groups we come to understand the love of God and His great plan for our lives, and when we discover God everything changes for the better.

If God convicts you to start a small group and you want further information, if I can help in anyway please contact me at ladd@thebeggardanced.com and I will do my best to encourage you in your plans.

For anyone who is in the Oshawa area please remember I am going to be speaking in the chapel of the Simcoe St. United Church, 66 Simcoe St. South Friday evening, the 20th of September at 7:00pm and again Saturday afternoon at 2:30pm in the same venue. Ruth would like everyone to bring their musical instruments as we plan a time of praise in song and fellowship with old friends and new friends. I pray that you can find time to attend and that we will all be encouraged spiritually through our time together.