When I received the Lord in 1983, I joined a church that had small groups. Since that time, I have always looked for churches with small group ministry. Small groups have given me and my wife the personal support and encouragement we needed to grow in Christ. In fact, home meetings always feel more like "church" to me than any Sunday or weeknight service in the church building.
When I was first saved, I had many, many problems. Because I was in a small group, I was not able to hide my pain and struggles, and I got the help I needed. Christians in the group saw I was in crisis, and led me to resources that could help me.
Later, small group members loaned me a car so I could keep my job. When my children were born, group members brought us meals and helped us with housework. They threw us a surprise baby shower on the one night we both had the flu and decided to stay home. They saved us some cake and all the presents for the next week.
I was given the opportunity to serve small group members as needs arose.
My Bible study has deepened because of small groups. I was able to ask questions about the Sunday sermons or difficult Bible passages and get answers. I learned inductive Bible study by discussing issues in small groups. I learned to pray for one another and bear one another's burdens in small groups.
Later, when I was seeking God and contemplating a career change, God confirmed my call to ministry during a prayer time in a small group. Small groups gave me support and encouragement to get through Bible college. Later, when asked to serve at a church 90 miles away, group members paid for my moving truck and helped me fill it.
Now I am helping lead the small group ministry in our church.
So I believe the path to growth and maturity ...