Small groups are something that you are likely to be encouraged to get involved with as a regular church-goer. Hopefully, if run well, they offer a safe space for Christians to grow together and they help to deepen both friendships and understanding of God. But what if you are not a regular church-goer? What if you don’t call yourself a Christian? Is a small group the ideal space for people to be introduced to God, perhaps for the first time?
1. The most obvious argument, and potentially the trump card, is that Jesus told us to go out and make disciples, to share the gospel with those who don’t yet know Him. We should use our small groups as places to connect not yet Christians with Jesus:
‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ Matthew 28:19
2. A small group is a safe and potentially less intimidating space for people to ask questions than a church environment. People who are not familiar or comfortable with the format of a church will feel more at home with a smaller group of people and are therefore more likely to ask questions, get involved and be open to prayer.
3. The Christians in the group will learn more. Someone who doesn’t yet know much about God approaches faith with a freshness and innocence that others can learn from. Doubts provide questions for Christians to explore and answer.
1. A small group is for teaching and building up Christians, for fellowship with like-minded people who can encourage each other and pray together. If you invite non-Christians into the group, they could feel left out and not fully benefit from being surrounded by Christians.
2. People could feel held back and frustrated by having to go over the basics of their faith if they had to teach people who might not know anything about the Christian faith. What about people who are in the group because they want to study the difficult passages and topics in the Bible that don’t often get discussed in church – wouldn’t that just put non-Christian people off?
3. Inviting people who are not yet Christians to your group would change the dynamic so much that it might not be the comfortable, friendly, supportive place you’ve created with friends.
I’m not going to give you a conclusion, that’s for you to decide. Every group is different and I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all rule as to who should or shouldn’t be in your small group…
But I hope this ‘for and against’ exercise has got you thinking. Are you getting too comfortable in your small group? Do you have room in your small group to invite non-Christians to join with you? Either way, we need to make sure we are constantly seeking Jesus and asking Him what’s the point of our small groups and what should we be doing within them.
About Emily Owen
Emily dreams of travelling the world and writing about the great things she sees God doing along the way. Whilst waiting for dreams to come true she happily works for CWR, plays a lot of netball and is trying to learn Spanish.