Small Group ministry in Penang Trinity consists of Care Groups (CGs) and spiritual formation groups hosted in organizations such as the Methodist Senior Fellowship, Methodist Women, Boys’ Brigade, Methodist Youth Fellowship and others.
The key purpose of being part of a small group is to be in close prayer, worship, study and fellowship with other believers in ways that promote discipleship, mutual accountability and support that are essential catalysts of our spiritual growth.
In TRAC of which we are part, small groups are defined by the following characteristics:
NUTURE: Grow towards spiritual maturity and Christ-likeness
ACCOUNTABILITY: Encourage one another in our spiritual journey
CARE: Respond to the needs of members
SERVICE: Do ministry in church and evangelism in community
3 Critical Elements of a Small Group
Consistent Christian Fellowship
Close relationships have always been at the core of the Christian experience. Jesus had a sizeable following, but chose 12 disciples instead for focused and dedicated training and ministry (Luke 6:12-13). We read in Acts 2:42-47, that the early church committed themselves to spiritual disciplines, growth and fellowship as a community. The Holy Spirit empowered them both individually and corporately to powerful gospel witnessing and deep experience of God’s work in their midst. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us we must not neglect meeting with one another to encourage and spur each other onwards to love and good deeds as we live in expectation of the Lord’s coming again (Hebrews 10:24-25). We need to be part of a small group to experience God’s grace and provision to grow as disciples of Christ in a more complete way.
Sized for Meaningful Intimacy and Growth
Although there are no hard and fast rules for the size of group membership, many effective small groups are sized between 10 to 15 members. This ensures an environment that encourages trust and accountability within a reasonably sized group. Small group members know they can share both their joys and burdens with fellow believers who have grown with them spiritually over the years. Such meaningful intimacy is harder to achieve in the general church community that meets only on Sundays. It is also in a smaller group setting that we learn to pray for one another, and to show forgiveness and patience that result in spiritual growth and maturity. Such growth can impact that way we live and witness in other areas of our lives such as family, school and the work place.
Paul exhorted the Philippian church to, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) If we cannot begin to practise this within a small group setting, it would be much harder to grapple with this in a larger church community setting. On the other hand, if we can grow in spiritual maturity in a small group setting, our relationships and testimony in the larger church community could be much improved as well. Questions for reflection: Am I part of a small group setting that encourages mutual trust and accountability? Am I progressively learning to be loving, patient, and forgiving within the context of the small group and beyond? Am I convinced that a small group setting encourages spiritual maturity and growth?
Empowered for Ministry and Outreach
When we are part of a small group that grows together in spiritual disciplines and maturity, we will be equipped to serve effectively as well. God has made us differently and gifted us differently – in order that we might serve together as the body of Christ with our respective spiritual gifts to build up the church and for effective witness to the world. In 1 Corinthians 12: 12-14, Scripture tells us: Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. It is in this context of our diversity of ‘parts’ that the Holy Spirit empowers us with different gifts to serve in unity for God’s work to be accomplished (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). Of course, we can (and should) serve and make an impact alone or as individuals as God leads us. Certainly we can (and should) serve together with other Christians even though we may not be in the same small group with them. But the small group context where members have been growing spiritually together can be a very impactful way to serve the Lord in various ministries in the church and/or outreach work in the community.
It is also in the context of serving together that we often find ourselves stretched in terms of showing patience, forbearance and compassion to one another and also to the ones we are ministering to (see point 2 above). Take the next step: Contact our CG Coordinator or the church office for information on our available small groups or approach your organizational head (MSF, MYF, BB, MW, etc) for a discussion on how you can be part of a small group.