Don Clements. Does it matter if I know all that stuff about Martin Luther and John Knox? Does it matter if I know what has happened in the PCA for the past 30 plus years? All I really care about is my own local church and my own personal ministry – and I just don’t have time to worry about all that other stuff. Let me suggest that “all that other stuff” is part and parcel of what ultimately produced your local church, and for that matter, most likely your individual ministry.
God has given us his Word as his revealed will, but has also given us hundreds of years of church history to help us better understand and apply his Word to our life and world. The Apostles passed on that tradition to the early church and through the church to us today. We do not worship in a time warp. We are not existentialists only focusing on the present moment. As evangelical and reformed Christians, we realize that we worship with saints of all the ages and we stand on the shoulders of giants of the faith who have preceded us.
Small group ministry is an important facet of many church programs. But small groups meeting without wrestling with the implications of the Scripture for their lives, individually and corporately, are at the very least deficient.
The framework for the church to be in the world but not of it requires knowing the Word, knowing what we believe and why, and knowing the transforming effect truth is to have upon our lives. Included in the framework is the need to understand the world–not only to keep ourselves unspotted from the world, but also to know how to better communicate God’s truth in this world. Still, through my study, experience, and analysis I have a number of concerns about the church’s current involvement in our world.
Small group suggests a level of understanding that grows as people come to know each other better. And that is a significant inhibitor. Many of us don’t want to be known. This makes us vulnerable. If they really know me will they still accept me? I ask myself that question. Whether you ask it or not, there’s a real possibility that it makes you cautious in relationships.
Small group ministry is a program. Like any program it should be viewed as a means to an end. If you don’t have a clear idea what you want a program to accomplish its value ought to be seriously questioned. To put it another way: don’t have a small group ministry because you think everyone else has one.