I love small groups. The more I read and discover about them, the more importance I place on them. However, there is one thing that trumps all. I call it the BIG picture of small groups.
Ask 100 people in your church about small groups and their purpose and you are likely to get as many answers. You will find everything from a place to build friendships, and a place to have fun, to a place to study the Bible. None of the answers are necessarily incorrect, but if we miss the BIG picture nothing else truly matters.
So, what is the BIG picture? (I’m so glad you asked!)
The BIG picture is this: we were created to reflect God to those we come in contact with in a way that draws them to Him.
Sounds like a tall order when you consider exactly who God is: love, justice, mercy, grace, forgiveness, sacrifice, holiness, truth, kindness, and a God of relationship (the list could continue!)
As a relational being, He desires relationship with us and created us for relationship with others. We crave connection. Small groups give us an opportunity to connect. It is in this connectivity that we begin to reflect God to each other by living out the truth of His word and showing those without relationship to God, how a relationship with God can be.
The BIG picture is not found in indulging ourselves in more knowledge of the word than we are applying and living out. The BIG picture is not found in connection with believers in our group while neglecting those outside the church. The BIG picture is not found in a “serve me” mentality. The BIG picture has always been focused towards those outside the church. Yes! Outside the church.
Disclaimer here – don’t misinterpret what I am saying! I am not discrediting connection, personal spiritual growth, and the service to others in our group. I am merely pointing out that the picture is much larger than our own personal world, much, much bigger.
The things we crave – connection, spiritual growth, and our personal needs being met – will happen organically through small groups but that should never be the purpose. It has always been about reflecting God to those outside the walls of the group and church. It has always been about sharing and serving a world in need. It has always been about Great Commission Living. It has always been about reaching out.
We don’t seek out a small group for us. We seek out a small group for others. It isn’t about us. It’s about them – and making them, part of us.
Small groups are vital to the life of the church but only if we can truly see the BIG picture!