Meeting in small groups is a helpful way to explore and deepen our faith. There are many reasons why small group fellowship meetings have been an important part of Christian experience throughout the ages.
Growing in Faith
Small groups help us to learn from each other as we apply the Gospel to our own lives. It’s crucial to learn about who Jesus is from the pulpit in our services, but we also need friends to help us address that question face to face. We need people who are willing to get to know us so they can help us walk with Christ more faithfully. This is something which has happened from the very earliest days of the Church (see Acts 18:24–26).
Digging deeper into the Bible and our Faith
Some of our groups meet to discuss and apply the Bible. We use excellent, interactive materials from The Church of England, The Bible Society and Alpha and have capable, accountable group leaders who run short courses of differing kinds. Regular groups are run by members of the congregation at St Mary’s Church using Pilgrim and The Bible Course. By discussing and applying Scripture together, we can learn to understand not only the Bible, but also each other, so that each will know better how to love one other. Small groups seek to cultivate an environment of openness and trust. Group members are encouraged to ask questions they might not ask elsewhere. We also have less formal, social groups such as Knit and Knatter.
Living a 7-day-a-week Faith
In our small groups we can respond to Sunday’s worship by thinking about its impact on our daily lives. In a world which can feel increasingly fragmented, together with others who are on a journey of faith, we can work out what it means to live as a Christian.
Sharing our Faith
Small groups are also a place where we can develop a ‘spiritual vocabulary’ with which to explore our faith, and to start to put into words what our faith means to us so that we can more easily express our faith to others in words as well as actions. Small groups can be an important stepping-stone to church worship. Sometimes it is easier to invite friends to a small group if coming along to a church service feels too big a step.
Many churches have a number of guests or occasional visitors “orbiting” the church; they are considering landing but not sure if or how they can. Small groups can provide a way for those who are trying—or considering whether they would like to try—to break into the life of the church.
In the New Testament believers prayed together “with one accord” (Acts 4:24). In small groups, children and parents, neighbours and friends, those new to the faith, and those with a lifetime’s experience of living as a follow of Jesus can help each other come before God, articulating their praise and petitions in their own words. In these settings we can learn to pray with others in all our diversity.
Spending time with others is not a spiritually-neutral activity. As we catch up with friends and make new ones, we practice the Christian calling to understand and love one other. As we share and listen to stories, we learn how others are grappling with integrating the sacred into the everyday.
Small groups can help us develop a greater sense of Christian community in a disconnected age. They can facilitate the formation of deeper Christian friendships, encourage greater spiritual accountability among church members, and become a natural opportunity for inviting other people to experience the joys and challenges of life as a member of God’s family, the Church.
For information about our current small groups, please see the diary page.