Small Groups

A wonderful quote over which I have often reflected comes from Margaret Mead (1901-1978) a US anthropologist.  Here is the quote:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Interesting.  To consider the truthfulness of this I went to our modern-day authority, Google, and typed in “small groups that changed the world.”  Here is what came up:

  • When a small group of immigrants settled a new land called America, America became a world power that influences most things going on today;
  • the US founding fathers…;
  • They called themselves “The German Workers Party” and had about 7 members, then they later became known as “National Socialists” as they grew in numbers;
  • Lenin and the Bolsheviks;
  • The group of scientists working on the Manhattan Project in WW2;
  • A small group of radar pioneers who won the Second World War and launched a technological revolution;
  • A recent small group to significantly change the world drove three planes into buildings and crashed a fourth one in a field.

Small groups have the potential of changing the world. 

There was in an interesting article about the reasoning behind small groups in the feminist magazine, YES! (May 16, 2012) Sarah Byrnes writes:

As a general rule, as communities grow, they lose social cohesion. There is a tricky tension between growing a group and a maintaining sense of personal belonging for members.

Like other voluntary associations, social movements struggle with this. But we can learn important lessons from the places that have figured it out—even from unlikely places like Saddleback “megachurch” in Orange County, CA.

Over 20,000 people attend Sunday worship at Saddleback, and yet members experience a strong, deep sense of belonging. That’s because Pastor Rick Warren has created “a church out of a network of lots of little church cells—exclusive, tightly knit groups of six or seven who meet in one another’s homes during the week to worship and pray.”

In other words, the secret is small groups.

Progressive social movements don’t often take inspiration from conservative megachurches. But the lessons about organizational structure may be worth a second look. (Hat tip to Dave Pollard for pointing this out.)…

A phrase that is sometimes used to describe the phenomena of a mega-church like Saddleback Community church is “Cell and Celebration.”  Another phrase that is often used is “The larger you grow the smaller you must become.”  There is a lot of hype and energy that comes from the large gatherings of people.  But, small groups are where transformation of individual lives takes place and where movements to change the world are formed. 

I believe Jesus knew that.  Just as God’s people in the Old Testament were organized around the 12 tribes, Jesus organized his movement around 12 disciples.  He formed a small group.  He spent lots of time with those 12, he taught them, questioned them, challenged them, prayed with them, walked with them, camped out with them, ministered with them and, from having spent time together, handed over the long-range ministry to those 12 who changed the world.

Small groups.

I believe spiritual transformation takes place in our lives today through small groups as well.  Beginning April 8, we will have an opportunity to be involved in a study on the person and work of Holy Spirit.  I like using the name Holy Spirit because it emphasizes the personhood of this third person of the Trinity.

For you who live in Sheridan, Wyoming, you can sign up for a small group in the lobby of the church.  You can also call the church office, let us know your interest, and we will get you in a group suitable for you.  You do not have to be a member of this church to participate. 

If you are not in the Sheridan community, let me know and we will figure out a way to at least get the study material to you so you can study along over this 6 week period.  If you want to form a small group where you are so you can study this material together, again, let me know and I would be glad to work with you. 

Small groups can change lives and changed lives can change the world.  May God richly bless you as you allow our Lord to shape and mold you. 

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