The following is excerpted from our Small Groups Overview for 2012/13. Please see
that document for additional details.
(If you're interested in joining one of our current 9 Small Groups, please contact us.)
Why Small Groups at CRC - The Big Picture
"To advance the kingdom of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ for the glory of God and the joy of all peoples" (our church mission statement).
Why Small Groups at CRC - in Light of Our Mission
- God's kingdom is best displayed when his people joyfully embrace his passions and priorities (i.e., his glory in the salvation of his people and their representation of him in the world) and pursue a lifestyle that reflects them - in family relations, neighborhood relations, in workplace relations, in friendships, in community involvement, etc.
- Small Groups will provide an essential means to see this joyful embrace and lifestyle actualized. They will be a major tool leveraged by the elders (pastors) to “exercise oversight” and “shepherd the flock” of CRC (1Pet.5:2). They will be an essential means to help CRC move from the hearing of God’s word, to living consistently in light of it. That living will include upbuilding fellow Christians (e.g., Heb.3:12-13, 10:23-26) and working to see others “saved” and enjoying the fellowship of Christ as well (cf. 1Cor.9:22, 10:33, 2Cor.5:20).
Why Small Groups at CRC - in Brief
- Pastoral oversight and care
- Application of biblical teaching (in two ways):
- Disciple building (Strengthening Christians)
- "One another" ministry (spiritual gifts, practical helps, etc. - 1Cor.12:4, 14:26, Heb.10:24, Col.3:12-17, 1John 3:17, Titus 2:14, 3:14)
- Accountability (Watch out! -Heb.3:12, Lk.12:15, 2John 1:8)
- Disciple making (Proclaiming the gospel through "salt and light living" with non-Christians)
"When we meet as Christians, we do so in fellowship with each other, caring for each other and responding to each other's changing needs. [And] we also meet for the purpose of growth and training: growing in our knowledge of God, strengthening our faith, and training each other to be better able to serve and encourage others with the word of God." -Matthias Media
A Word About Our Emphasis
We will strive to be Christ-centered, rather than group-centered. In other words, we want each small group to be a "Christian group," as opposed to a "group of Christians." While both descriptions will obviously be true, the former touches more specifically on the emphasis we intend:
“Groups preoccupied with community tend to become problem-centered... The focus of Christian groups is growth, not problems... The distinctly Christian element is to pursue growth in the knowledge of God and obedience to him. So prayers will be offered, not only for a job [for example], but for faith in Christ, patience, endurance, avoidance of self-pity and so on... If community is the goal, the small group has become the end rather than the means. Instead of meeting to hear and respond to God in his Word, the functioning of the group is central. True Christian ministry will see small groups as a means to an end... our primary reason for joining a [Small] Group
must not be to get closer to each other,but to grow in Christ."
- Colin Marshall (emphasis added)
Growth in Christ, of course, will draw fellow Christians closer together.
The Content of CRC Small Groups
Each Small Group will contain the following 5 elements. Whether each element is covered during each meeting will depend on the group's dynamics. However, each element should be a part of the overall group ethos - both inside and outside of the formal meeting times.
- Worship - In song or in Scripture reading, etc.
- Study (Book, Bible, Article; usually the Sunday Sermon)
- Fellowship (and Accountability)
- Work for the progress and joy of one another's faith. Spur one another on to love and good deeds. Fight off unbelief and bitterness. Delight in God together. Etc.
- Mission - Thinking and praying and planning about gospel outreach to spheres of influence represented in the group. Intentional/salt and light living.
- Prayer - For one another, for the church, for the community, for the gospel to spread
A word about the “Mission” element:
“We are... ‘communities on mission’’... This practically means the primary goal is nurturing intimate family-like relationships whose mission is not to reach the neighbors around where the group meets but to reach the neighbors around where the individuals live. The group does this by praying while in the group-time and throughout the week for gospel opportunities and praying for lost people that the individuals in the group are interacting with. The group also keeps each other accountable to live on mission in the everyday. We call this intentional living. [Small] group time should be a means of nurturing and cultivating disciples who make disciples through their own intentional lives...
“...Because Christ’s commission to His church is disciples making disciples, [small] groups are a process of making disciples who make disciples through our mission of intentional love...
“Cultivating true disciples who share their faith with others in order to make disciples, our groups should keep each other accountable on the belief that all of ife is on the mission of making disciples. Our groups will also seek to see how they can serve periodically those around the area where the church meets corporately...”
-Treasuring Christ Church, Raleigh, NC
A Typical CRC Small Group Meeting
The following would be a typical schedule for a CRC Small Group meeting.
- Approx. 120mins
- Gather - approx. 15mins Informal mingling Refreshments
- Meeting - approx. 60-90mins
- Balance the 5 elements during this time according to each group's individual circumstances.
- Part - approx. 15mins
Some Logistics to Consider
- Who may attend?
- All CRC members will be expected to be part of a small group - whether older or younger
- Children of CRC members are welcome at their parents’ discretion. We’re happy to see children involved in the gatherings, but not at the expense of a parent’s ability to participate - both giving and receiving ministry.
- Non-member CRC regular attenders are welcome
- Guests of CRC members are welcome to visit
- How often?
- Meet the first 3 weeks of each month Sept - May
- Week 1 - normal gathering
- Week 2 - normal gathering
- Week 3 - normal gathering
- Week 4 - group does not meet, but small group leaders meet for training/shepherding
- (Week 5) - fellowship / mission / etc. (usually quarterly)