Theology, Church, Culture & Running
Eric,Why the rise in small groups? Probably for the same reason that "Sunday school" was pushed beginning about 100 years or so ago, and is still pushed today. These smaller gatherings are important because the "church" (i.e., worship service) is not an environment conducive to fellowship, relationship, mutual discipleship, and intimacy which is necessary for believers to grow (i.e., mature) together in Jesus Christ. When people look at the church as described in the NT, they recognize that today's "church" isn't there. But, instead of changing what they understand the church to be, they add on other things, like Sunday school or small groups, to take up the slack.-Alan
Because that is what was being pumped from the pulpit.
Alan,It seems that there are two related issues going on. On the positive side, Christians want more time to fellowship with one another. They find this in small groups. On the negative, the growth in small groups shows that something significant is lacking in worship services. As you've said, worship services are not conducive for growing interpersonal relationships. In the end, the emergence of small groups points to one of the major problems with worship services.
Swanny,Why do you think some pastors "pump it from the pulpit"?
Eric and Alan,I agree with Alan's first (of many?) comment and Eric's reply. We were attanding a larger church (>1000) for a short while, and they announced a plan for small "community groups" during the week. They were flooded with people's responses, many times more than expected.
Steve, I'm glad for the rise in small groups. I just wish it would cause more folks to question why they are needed in the first place (i.e., the problems with the worship service as we know it).
Re: the pumping...Jim Barna stats are an economic forecast for the fad-driven church.LCD projectors/no hymnalsno pews5-point salvation sales pitch traditional vs. contemporarypowerpoint sermons 40 days of "whatever is next"and on it goes...Home/cell/care groups are the new hot...gotta emulate that to capture market share because despite all this new-fad stuff, people want to meet in a living room instead. And by emulate, I mean corporate church for 20 or less people (age/marital status graded of course) with carefully selected group makeup, "facilitators" and pre-approved programming.Fortunately, relationship cannot be manufactured and this too will not satisfy. Home groups will be the next "yeah, my church tried that" thing. It is like trying to duplicate public school at home when you only have three kids and they are at different ages. It isn't the same thing. It isn't the "man's logic" way.
Eric H.,It's difficult to know how much of this is fad and how much will last. I suppose we'll see. The emergence of the small groups has come about because the worship service offers little to no community. Therefore, the small group fills a real need. For this reason, I think it has "staying power," at least in some form.
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