Should small groups do homework assignments? I hear that question often, and for me, it's a no-brainer.
I think of small group as "family." My mom and dad never assigned "homework" between our family meetings, or at least they didn't call it that. But, of course, we were encouraged constantly to learn and grow, and we even helped each other do that between meetings (suppertime at the family table). Our family was a community that cared for each other.
I wonder if some groups include homework because they still perceive small group as an academic class that meets in a home rather than as a family community of brothers and sisters in Christ who come together to love one another and grow together as the Word becomes flesh in our lives. Whether or not to do homework assignments depends on the mission, purpose, and values of the group. If it is a study group that emphasizes intense discipleship, then homework assignments might make sense. If it is a care/community group, and the purpose is relationship building (building an environment where discipleship happens), then academic-type homework assignments don't make sense.
In the Book of Acts — and all through the New Testament — we see biblically functioning community, where small groups of people cared about each others' needs, put others' interests above their own, gave to anyone who had need, prayed for and with one another, confessed their sins to each other, encouraged one another, and on and on. That was the emphasis. That was authentic community. That is a model for what the church needs today.
As far as teaching, we see that they "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching" (Acts 2:42). But how was this teaching accomplished? Paul taught the believers to "let ...