How Small Groups Build Community

Fellowship does happen when we come face to face with one another—and with God

How do small groups help build community in ways that can not be built in larger groups? Small groups are more capable of meeting people's needs for care and support. Why? First, small groups are in a better position to be aware of people s needs, struggles, stresses, feelings, and victories than in larger groups, even Sunday school classes larger than 15 people.

Many factors make a small group more supportive: the fact that a small group generally meets in a home rather than an auditorium or classroom, and usually in the evening rather than in the morning; the less structured environment of a small group, which allows people to share needs in a more natural manner; the closeness people feel with one another because relationship building is purposefully built into the meeting time; and the greater amount of time the group has to be together.

Size, of course, is another important consideration. Sociologist Lewis Cosar says,

In small groups, members typically have a chance to interact directly with one another; once the group exceeds a relatively limited size, such interaction must be mediated through formal arrangements … .
The smaller the group, the greater the involvement of its members, for interaction among a few tends to be more intense than interaction among many, if only because of the greater frequency of contact. Inversely, the larger the group, the weaker the participation of its members; chances are high that they will be involved with only a segment of their personalities instead of as whole human beings.

The smaller the group, the more each person has the ability to know everyone else's needs, beyond the mere superficial. This can be observed in different size groups when prayer requests are taken, for instance. ...

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