So, when will church get back to normal? That’s the question we’re all asking. I’m thinking that what we’ll be calling “normal” at some point in the future is something different from what used to be. “Normal” is what we’re busy creating right now. There’s a good chance that church will never be quite the same as it was before COVID-19 invaded our communities.
Now that things are starting to open up again, this is the perfect time for churches to introduce new ways of doing things that gather people together in meaningful ways. The slate is clean. You are free to create. There are all kinds of resources to help you think through what you can be doing. You can find some of them on the MTSBC Facebook pages and the MTSBC web site.
One thing in particular you can do right now is to introduce small groups to people in your church. Recently, LifeWay Christian Resources released an e-book that churches can download for free that talks about the importance of small groups to help Christians grow in their faith.
The guide, entitled, “Together: The Power of Groups,” explains why small groups are so important. The writer, well known LifeWay researcher Scott McConnell, reminds us that “our purpose in life—bringing glory to God by knowing, loving, and enjoying Him—cannot be accomplished without living in loving friendships with other followers of Christ.” While people may still be nervous about getting together in large groups for worship, they may be more willing to meet in smaller, more intimate settings.
This seems like a perfect time to launch some small groups. In fact, if we really want change to take place in people’s lives, we need to gather them together in small groups. McConnell remarks, “Changes in our behavior (for good or bad) are greatly influenced by those you trust the most. Relationships matter.”
Small groups are essential for creating transformational environments for Christians. McConnell notes that the role of churches is “to be developing communities of close relationships that reinforce the changes God is prompting in our lives.” So, do you want change to take permanent hold in the lives people in your church? Get them into a small group.
McConnell goes so far as to say, “The low priority of relationships within our churches is stunting our growth spiritually.” He has polled people on this and discovered that people who participate in small groups exhibit a number of really important characteristics. 1. They are more mobilized. They are more likely to serve people in their church and their community. 2. They are more disciplined. They read their Bibles more regularly, set aside time for private worship more often, seek out more opportunities for Bible study, give a higher percentage of their income to their churches, think about Bible truth more often, and pray more regularly. 3. They share their faith with others more often. They pray more often for opportunities to share their faith, actually do tell others about their faith more often, invite lost people to church more often, and are more eager to talk about Jesus with people. 4. They are also more connected. They are more likely to have people who hold them accountable, have significant relationships with others in church, work harder at peacemaking, and seek to help others grow in their faith.
Perhaps a large reason we’re not seeing more Christians living out the truths of their faith is because we aren’t helping them spend time with other Christians who can spur them on to a closer walk with the Lord. Christians need to be in close fellowship with other Christians. While worship on Sunday mornings gets them near each other, it doesn’t tend to create much of the interpersonal interaction that is proven to help make disciples. McConnell notes that more than two-thirds of churchgoers who are not in a group are open to the idea of attending a small group in the future. And six percent are actively looking for a small group to attend. You have people who will attend small groups if you will create them.
Everything has changed. Now is the time to introduce new things. Give small groups a try. I believe you’ll agree with Scott McConnell that you are seeing more people in your church doing more in and outside of your church because you gathered them together into small groups. You can get a free copy of this e-book yourself and learn more about the importance of small groups. Just go to https://lifewayresearch.com/ebook/. Provide your name and email address and get started. May the Lord bless you as you begin to create the new normal for your church.