Proscriptive Principles of Small Groups

In the previous posts, it was proposed that the paradigm of small assemblies from the early church was still applicable today. Further, there has been no other prototype given in biblical revelation that replaced that paradigm for Christian gatherings. That limited size structure is what properly supports the growth of each believer in all required ways. It effectively disavows the need for cookie cutter approaches.

Any assumptions that contemporary social science has developed new or even superior paradigms that make biblical paradigms less sufficient or outdated would in effect propose that the Scriptures are incomplete, insufficient, in need of help, or all three. That is simply not part of our system of beliefs.

So, are small groups the answer to the apparent insufficiency of mass Sunday assemblies in supporting biblical Christian growth and need for interpersonal connection? I would have to answer with the proverbial yes and no.

What, you say? All this palaver to take the fifth? Well, not quite…

Small groups have much to offer any sized church. They provide an intimate fellowship structure that is solidly Christian and with legitimate biblical oversight. That is no small contribution. They allow a membership that is (hopefully) voluntary and therefor can reflect individual preference. However, does this fulfill that same need as the fellowship of the regular assembly, where everyone knows one another? I would say no.

The church in the present age often seems about growth, growth and more growth. That is understandable to sustain building, staff, programs and other infrastructure. But that is not what the local church is about. The result can be a local church where people are there by alone. And the bigger the church, the bigger the issue. The solution given is small groups. My point is that they are not the solution and they are definitely not a reflection of the early church. The local church as a mega institution does not reflect the church of the Bible.

The church assembly is not present in Bible as scalable. Once it gets beyond a couple of hundred members there is no possibility for biblical  church fellowship and a Christian family relationship among the members and adherents. Splitting into small groups just yields a fragmented set of groups.

I would propose that the church should always divide once it has reached the point where members can know most other members, and where the care of the membership requires a staff infrastructure. Saying that small groups make it possible to provide the early church environment while having many hundreds or thousand of members is simply untrue even if it supports the organization.