Recently I have been reading a newly published small groups book by Brad House “Community: Taking Your Small Group Off Life Support”. I have found the book refreshing to read for several reasons one of which is that it is not presenting a new small group model or promised success if you adopt a certain method but focuses on the core aspects of community and our need for it as well as what it should look like. These aspects relate well to what we have been discussing as House Group leaders and coaches.
House explains that house groups do not exist simply to keep people in the church. But the main purpose of their house groups (which they call “community groups”) is:
We have community groups because we have seen the glory of God and we have been given the grace to live our lives to exalt Christ. We have community groups because we have been reconciled to God and one another. . . . We have community groups as a proclamation of the goodness of our God and testimony to the completed work of the cross. (p. 43)
House states plainly what functions house groups should have in the church and spends the book expanding upon these functions. These functions are discipleship, pastoral care, and mission (at Brooklife we term “mission” as “outreach”).
Discipleship occurs through transformation. The author presents a “transformation cycle” which consists of Sunday components which produces Conviction and the house group community components should produce Confession and Repentance through application.
Pastoral Care- “Community groups are not merely Bible studies or social groups, but they have a responsibility for the ongoing growth and care of the church. It also means that leaders must be trustworthy and qualified to care for the small flocks in their hands. When done well, this allows a church to grow to any size and still provide pastoral care for all its members.”
The author views pastoral care in their house groups essentially the same as we do at Brooklife. “For Mars Hill Church this means that community groups are the primary vehicle for care in the church. We still provide one-on-one counseling for cases that require it, but we want the majority of that care to take place as the church loves one another and lives out the gospel together.”
Mission- “The purpose for the church at the end of the day is to be an effective tool for the mission of God…When the gospel is lived out in community, we find our identity in Jesus; we are compelled to worship God, love on another, and have compassion for the lost. As we are transformed by the gospel, our communities become places we want others to experience. We want our friends and neighbors to be transformed by Jesus, and they become a source of growth for the church.”
*House goes on to explain not that numbers alone are the goal but the depth of which the gospel penetrates our lives as agents of God for change and transformation in the world around us.
Community: Taking Your Small Group off Life Support (Re: Lit Books)