Small groups find their roots in the early church where followers devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, fellowship, sharing a meal and prayer (Acts 2:32-47). Today, small groups may be on the church premises, in homes or at a location away from the church facility, while observing similar practices of the early church.
Small groups provide an environment to produce close personal relationships and great evangelistic opportunities. These groups can be formed around ministry teams, outreach, Bible study or discipleship. The Southern Baptist Convention is committed to providing resources for consulting, training and networking through its LifeWay Christian Resources, one of the world's largest providers of Christian resources.
Innovative and engaging, Small Groups offer the casual, comfortable feel of a small group dynamic while providing sound Biblical teaching rooted in Scripture. Designed to be provocative and conversational, a sense of community is cultivated where hearts come alive and relationships grow!
A simple definition of a small group is: "A micro-community of three to 12 Jesus followers doing the Christian life deeply together." If honesty and vulnerability are necessary for spiritual growth, group dynamics would tell us that the levels of transparency that make this possible won't happen if the group is made up of more than 12 or less than 3 individuals.
"Doing the Christian life deeply together" can be seen in the practices of some of the first believers, following Pentecost, as outlined in Acts 2:42-47. Included in this list are: 1) devotion to living out what they learned from studying God's Word together ("the apostles' teaching); 2) devotion to doing life together ("fellowship" or koinonia); 3) eating together and/or partaking of the Lord's Supper together ("the breaking of bread"); 4) wholehearted, faith-centered prayer that brought about the miracles seen throughout the book of Acts; and 5) meeting one another's needs even when it meant giving up something substantial of their own: "Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need" (Acts 2:44-45).
Small groups, unlike straightforward Bible studies, make disciples through the utilization of and processing of God's story as it intersects with our stories. When an individual joins a micro-community of believers, that person involves herself/himself in the gaining and processing of biblical knowledge in community and utilizes Scripture to get to know a complex God and to understand life in relationship with Him.