It is impossible to be a Christian and an individualist at the same time. The philosophy of egoism that is evidently very popular nowadays does not fit into the life path of a disciple of Jesus Christ. The faithful need to feel that they are a family, their spiritual ties are close, and their prayer is not only for them but also for the sake of the people around them. That is why small groups are very important in the organization of the Christian ministry. The missionary groups help the faithful spread the teachings of Jesus in broader communities while the process of shaping an authentic disciple greatly depends on the relational groups, which are the types of small groups. Small groups contribute both to the increase in the number of disciples and to the rapid spiritual growth of the existing ones.
Significance of small groups in the ministry organization
The tradition to gather in small groups in order to worship Jesus traces its roots back to the early times of Christianity. The evidence of this form of discipleship can be found in the Holy Scripture. When Jesus called all His disciples to follow Him in Matthew 4:18-22, the first small group of the faithful appeared. In some time, the disciples left Jesus to teach other peoples His Gospel. First, they went to the lost sheep of Israel with the message that the kingdom of heaven is coming soon. Such small groups have proved that they are an efficient form of ministry.
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There always were people that desired to separate from the world and community on their way of Christians. However, the majority of the faithful cannot submit everything to Jesus as the monks do; moreover, Jesus does not require such a sacrifice from everyone. Nevertheless, the believers can start to change their environment for the better by preaching in small groups; consequently, sharing the good and kindness in the world will be the great ministry of a person.
The growth of the early Christian church can be explained by the increasing number of local churches, which people who lived nearby visited in order to listen to the preacher and receive Jesus through the Holy Spirit. In fact, the local churches were small groups, which united people around Christ, as it was commanded in 1 Corinthians 16, as well as Acts 2 and 5.
Bonhoeffer also studied this phenomenon. He assumed that for Jesus, it was not enough to have only the hearts and ears of the believers. He wants people to follow Him, to prove with their entire life that they are trying to become better for the glory of God. Christ also wants every person in the world to see that this group of His followers exist and act, and such an example will attract more and more faithful to these small groups.
The ministry in a small group feeds the faithful spiritually, trains them, and encourages for further preaching and ministry. It creates the right environment for sharing the wisdom of the Gospels, as well as provides people with the endearing and safe atmosphere. Moreover, such an environment is beneficial for the non-believers, because they see the example of other brothers and sisters in Christ, and learn how to live according to God’s Commandments.
Significance of relational groups in making an authentic disciple
It is essential to understand the importance and purpose of the authentic disciple-making process that takes place in relational groups. Small groups of local churches gather for a number of practical reasons. They contribute to the spiritual growth of the faithful, stimulate their religious development, connect people in a spiritual family, encourage them to change their lives for better, provide them with the friendly support and possibility to praise the Lord together. Such groups increase the number of followers and develop potential leaders; as a result, new groups can be created.
The relational groups are the moving power of the Church, which allows it to grow constantly. The small group functions as a single body. The faithful and the pastors are interconnected in it to that extent that they become a unity. God is in all of His disciples, and His disciples show others that Jesus dwells in them. Such groups start working in the community for the sake of all people; they become the life examples of Evangelism that has a practical application.
It is considered that those people who do not believe in Christ usually feel anxious when they think about becoming a Christian. They do not know what to start with, where to go, how to enter the church and community of people who already know each other. There is always a fear to appear odd, strange, and not trustworthy. Small groups of believers are able to create a better environment. A person that decides to change his or her life and become a disciple of Jesus can manage the communication with a few new people easier than with a crowd of followers. In addition, it is crucial to demonstrate that a small community of Christians makes everything possible to ameliorate the life in their area. Being urgent and active is the best thing that evangelical small groups can do in order to glorify the Lord and attract more disciples to Christ.
My Missional pursuits and status in the Christian community
When I start thinking about my missional pursuits, I recall the Biblical idea that I am not enough for the majority of the things while God is enough. I do not feel that I am an example of righteousness and spiritual maturity, but I try to work hard to improve myself. In fact, the very idea that someone can be as perfect as Jesus is a serious mistake. For this reason, I assume that working on oneself in the spiritual sense is the first and the most essential step that a Christian disciple can make on his or her way. Perhaps, my example gives inspiration to some of my Christian acquaintances. The path of Jesus’ the disciple is difficult, and all of the faithful feel that they sometimes cannot overcome their challenges. In such situations, a real-world example of another weak Christian who also experiences problems, but does not give up is very useful.
There are many living examples of local churches, Christian communities, and small groups of the faithful who concentrate on reading and analyzing the words of the Gospels. They pray and read the Holy Scripture, and then pray for the second time. It will be not just to say that such faithful do their ministry in the wrong way. From certain perspectives, they believe in God with all the powers of their souls and hearts. However, their faith is only for them. They consume the words of wisdom from the Bible and become soothed by the feeling of being sinless. In fact, they often do nothing to see the evil that surrounds modern people. In their world, there is no poverty, no violence, and no drug addictions.
I think that such a position concerning the Christian faith does not correspond to my worldview. I cannot close my eyes and forget about the struggles that are mostly everywhere; that is why I believe that my active participation in social life is my obligation of a true Christian. I usually visit families, in which parents beat their children, and talk to them. If the conversations have no results, I attract public attention to this problem so that it is finally solved. I also try to understand the theoretical background of Christianity and learn how to apply it in practice and my future ministry. There are chances that with more profound knowledge, my arguments will be better perceived by people, and I will be able to help them more. There cannot be a real ministry without changing the world around. Therefore, first, it is necessary to understand that everything is in the hands of God.
The faithful can be law-abiding citizens, be kind and moral to other people, and be decent wives and husbands. However, every individual is still sinful by nature, and the evil tempts human souls every day. It is essential to understand that only Jesus can save people, and His grace can finally become people’s grace only if they turn their lives into the ministry for His sake. Spiritual growth and attempts to become mature in the religious sense are among the key issues in the ministry. The tradition of gathering in small groups has a long history and starts from the old tradition described in the New Testament. Since those times, the followers of Jesus have gathered in relational groups and started their discipleship in order to glorify the Lord and change the world for the better.