Marrying Small Groups and the Sunday School …An Emerging Trend

Combine biblical teaching with strong community.

Many have suggested that 12 members is the the optimum size for a small group to maximize its interaction and build community. After all, Jesus chose 12 followers initially, most literature in the past 14 years has advocated 12 as the preferred size, and observation has shown that balanced participation among members declines when a group gets significantly larger than 12.

My favorite response to a leader bragging that their group now is so successful that it has 18 or 20 members is, "Then, you don't lead a small group any more." One distinctive of small groups is discovery learning and sharing of biblical insights. The value is that we can all grapple with the Word, draw personal conclusions, and share those with others.

On the other hand, Josh McDowell, among others, suggests that as the Church moves increasingly toward a small group dynamic as its modus operandi, it also tends to diminish the quality and/or intensity of teaching ministry. The net result can be that truth becomes relative. In other words, when truth becomes essentially what I think the Bible means, or what it says to me, the long term impact is to conclude truth is little more that what one thinks it is.

The point is well taken. Particularly if newer Christians hear a steady diet of views, opinions, and personal "takes" on the Scripture, the indepth study and "thus says the Lord" may eventually be lost from Christian experience. The danger is that belief may become little more than an existential conclusion.

While we must always be open to a variety of views and patient with those who do not understand, many biblical concepts and principles have been constants throughout Christian history. There is such a thing as moral absolutes. There really are!

There ...

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