Outreach Magazine is a magazine that seeks to inform and train church members in ways to reach their community and change their world. The following post is taken from their July/August 2014 print. At the River Community Church where I serve as Discipleship/Youth pastor, we operate using small groups as one of the most important tools that we see can directly influence discipleship. I noticed that a few statistics that Outreach shared helped to validate what we already know concerning the value of relationships that small groups can foster.
74% of American Protestant churchgoers say they have developed significant relationships with people at their church. Now that is a nice number though I wish it was higher. One of the wonderful blessings that a church can offer is connection with other believers as we accomplish together God’s calling found in the Great Commission. Our purpose is to not come together as a ritualistic effort of a purely duty-driven obligation. It is to come together to do life together as we encourage and spur others along in the work of God.
33% attend small groups through their church four or more times per month. Others less consistently and 41% never attend! This is the struggle sometimes in churches that offer small group ministries. We understand the supportive power of small groups and we want others to make that connection. The struggle is often getting others to know that the Christian life requires living in community with other believers. It is not just a come to church on Sunday thing. It is a consistent and supportive work where we spur each other on towards good work and spiritual growth. It really is doing life together and I believe is highly representative of what I think it is meant to be like in the Kingdom of God both in the present reality and that which is to come.
53% say they intentionally try to get to know new people at church. I am an introvert but I also know that as a believer, I can not afford to let my introvert traits take over my need for connection and my reaching out to others. Life throws so many distractions and problems at us each day. We are all at different points of strength and struggle within our spiritual lives. The connections we experience in small groups help to share that load.
Here is my point. It is easy to see. Get into a small group at your church. Make an intentional effort to do so. You will quickly see that you needed that support. You will begin to see that these relationships emulate what the church is to be- A family of believers doing life together. It will also spur on missions/outreach as well because you will be holding each other accountable.