Myth 5. Small groups should focus only on Bible study, not sharing sins or engaging in outreach.
Small groups that truly focus on Christ and his Word will inevitably get to how the gospel changes our life in all ways (sin, parenting, marriage, singleness, work, and so on) and to how we can share our faith. If your Bible study isn’t helping you to change into Jesus’s likeness you’re doing it wrong. If your study of the Bible doesn’t make you hate your sin more, ask for help in conquering it, and make you want to share your faith, you’re doing it wrong. Unfortunately, some small groups hide behind Bible study in order to avoid talking about the deeper heart issues that the gospel aims to address. If we truly allow God’s Word to speak, it must speak into our lives so that we confront our sin, strive to serve one another, and make intentional efforts to share this good news with the lost in our spheres of influence.
Truth: Small groups focus on how the gospel of Jesus Christ transforms us as his disciples who grow in holiness and as witnesses of his truth.
These five common myths underline a greater goal: the gospel must be central in the vision and mission of your group. If your group exists to meet your personal needs, then when it begins to fall short you go looking for the next group. But if the group exists as a microcosm of the church, where people of all types gather at the foot of the cross, then challenges, sin, and brokenness are an opportunity to apply the gospel of Christ.
Keep the Gospel Central in Small Groups
Here are a few suggestions to get your small group on the right track.
1. Regularly reorient your small group to see that they are members of Christ—rather than members of a particular church, denomination, theological tribe, Sunday school class, demographic (singles, married, people who adopt) or ethnic or racial background. Put Galatians 2:20 at the forefront of your group—we have been crucified with Christ and now Christ lives in us.
2. Help your group set biblical expectations for fellowship/community. We may not all hang out all the time, and we may not become best of friends, but we encourage each other in our faith as we meet regularly to open his Word together and to help each other testify to Jesus in our spheres of influence. We can humbly and sacrificially serve one another because Christ has sacrificed in order that we might be brothers and sisters in Christ.
3. Help your group see the glorious privilege to love one another and how it witnesses to unbelievers around us. Our love for each other confirms and validates the power of the gospel (John 13:35). The gospel takes wildly different people from every walk of life and transforms them to care deeply for each other. When your small group goes out of its way to love and pray for one another, you reveal the transforming grace of Christ and draw in unbelievers to witness this miracle.