Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Love, Learn, Serve

Each small group can be broken down into three components for its format: Love (or Fellowship), Learn, and Serve. A group’s format can be a combination of any of the three, or could even be just one or two of them. In other words, just like a pie, we can imagine the group’s structure to be cut up into three pieces where the size of each piece is determined by the leader and/or group.

Love (or Fellowship)
A small group with a “Love” component to it provides room for group members to have fellowship opportunities. Naturally, every small group has at least some form of the “Love” component associated with it since interacting with one another on a consistent basis helps us build relationships. However, some groups and their structures offer more opportunities for fellowship than others. For example, a dinner-social group where friends get together to have a meal and catch up may be 100% fellowship, while a Bible study may have 50% of their group dedicated to fellowship, while the other 50% dedicated to learning.

A small group with a “Learn” component to it comes together with the goal of working through a curriculum, a textbook, or a portion of Scripture with the intent to learn something new. Typically, as group sizes tend to increase, learning and/or serving components of the group increase as well. In other words, the number of fellowship opportunities may not arise as much when more group members are given the chance to interact and communicate. Thus, “classroom” types of small groups sometimes begin with a lecture before breaking into smaller groups to still be able to provide that opportunity for fellowship with one another. Yet even in these larger “Learn” types of groups, a “Love” component is still needed as too much learning without relationship could make the gathering feel more like a college class than a small group.

A small group with a “Serve” component makes an effort to reach outside of the church walls to minister to others and bring the Gospel to the world. Whether it’s a small group that chooses to feature a “serve” event in the middle of their semester or a group whose main goal is to be a part of service events all of the time, a group that has this component, it still is crucial for the members of the group to be given opportunity for relationships to be built. After all, too much task without relationship creates the potential for burnout and possibly may even risk the individual(s) to lose passion for their calling.

In the end, any combination or breakdown of a group’s structure is great as long as the expectations are communicated and the group’s goals are met. For example, if a group’s goal is to be a Bible study, the group becomes ineffective and loses its purpose if the group members only socialize and never crack open the Bible once that evening that they meet. Similarly, if a leader brings their Bible and begins to lecture to the dinner-social fellowship group, the group in this case also loses focus on its purpose (Revisiting the goals and notes that the group took during the first and/or second meetings can help ensure that the group is on track with its purpose).

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