The Importance of Cultivating Intimate Fellowship in Your Small Group

Fellowship often gets misrepresented in most churches.  Mention fellowship in most circles and most people think of potlucks or barbecues or any other activity that involves being together for a brief period of time.  But when I refer to fellowship here, I'm referring to ongoing interaction of a small group of people in the course of life.  In most churches, this type of fellowship is cultivated within the context of a Sunday school class or small group. 

I might be biased, but I believe that the Sunday school or small group ministry is vital to the health of a church when it comes to making disciples.  There are several things that should happen within a small group of SS class that strengthen the church and it's members. 

1.  A SS class promotes and enhances discipleship.  People who meet together regularly in the context of a small group are more likely to read and discuss the Bible on a deeper level.  They open up more about complex Biblical issues and ask the hard questions.  They challenge each other to grow.  It is where the true "iron sharpens iron" element plays out. 

2. Those in a SS class are more active in ministering to each other.  People in a small group are more willing to share what their needs and challenges are, and a small group that cares about each other cares for each other and actively pursues meeting each others needs.  I was part of a SS class that helped me share the financial burden of getting my Master's degree.  Because I was part of a group and was willing to express my need, several jumped in to help me.  I'm not sure I would have finished my degree without their help.

3.  Those in a SS class are more likely to be active in sharing their faith. People in a small group share with the group people they know who aren't believers.  They actively pray for non-believers and seek ways to win them to Christ. They are also more willing to share Christ with a non-believer than someone who is not connected to an intimate fellowship such as a small group or SS class. 

I didn't make any of these up.  Much research has been done by the TBC and Lifeway that prove these 3 things to be true.  There is much more to it, but when you boil it down cultivating intimate fellowship in your SS class or small group always involves these three elements:  Bible study/discipleship, ministry, and evangelism/outreach. Groups that study the Bible together, serve and care for each other, and actively share their faith are the healthiest kind of groups.  I will share more about this in later posts, but if you are a group leader and are lacking in any of these areas, I would encourage you to start working towards being a healthy group today. 

It is vital for the health of any church to get their people plugged into a small group or class.  Churches must have an easy and defined pathway by which new people to the church can enter into groups.  Sunday school matters.  Groups matter.  And if we are going to work towards fulfilling the Great Commission, it starts with getting our people involved in healthy groups who are willing to pour themselves into Scripture, each other, and the lost.


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