The United States and the world are experiencing a revolution in the Protestant faiths. In many countries, the change is labeled as emergent.
Although the experiences are slightly different at all the different denominations, one characteristic is true of all of them. They are organized around the small group. The groups meet in each other homes and are founded on the need we have for community and honesty. Too often in the organized religions, everything is done according to plan with little time given to the reality of each of our lives.
Of course, I have a particular belief that sharing and community in small groups has been greatly influenced by the leader of the 12 step groups—AA. Founded in 1938, AA has been such a phenomenon that it is estimated that there are close to 200 different types of 12 step groups.
Jesus and His disciplines used small groups to spread the Gospel. One organized church of today, Unitarian Universalist, has a well organized website devoted to topics, ideas, suggestions, for their small group ministry. The site has extensive resources for small groups with links for Christian and secular small groups. All the links for small groups is here. The links include: The joys and challenges of covenant,publications, and the complete guide to small group ministry.
How to begin a spiritual cell group is defined by Touch Outreach Ministries as “A spiritual cell group is very similar to a biological cell. Followers of Jesus Christ edify one another and increase the kingdom by sharing their lives with unbelievers. New leaders are raised up from within the group (with the support and training by their pastoral staff) to grow and expand the ministry to a hurting world. When the group multiplies, the process repeats itself.”
“Cell groups aren’t simply another name for a Bible study, fellowship group or Sunday School class. They are a group of believers who have banded together for a season in life to reach the lost, minister to the hurting and each other, and discover their leadership potential. Sure, cell groups study the Word, but they do so in order to live out what they read and use it effectively to penetrate a dark world with the light of Jesus Christ . . . which is quite different from studying a passage each week for general knowledge. Cell groups also have lots of fun together . . . but this fellowship is specialized in that it usually exposes unbelievers to a group of fun, Jesus-loving people. In other words, cell groups even use fellowship as an evangelistic tool! And last, it wouldn’t be right to call a Sunday morning classroom experience a cell group. A cell group should meet in a place and time that is comfortable for both the believers and unbelievers visiting, and provide enough time to share deep concerns and pray for one another. Rarely can either of these things be done within one hour at a church building, early on a Sunday morning.”
Other small groups links:
Small groups, big ideas–the egalitarian workforce philosophy of W. L. Gore & Associates
Dawn Ministries whose goal is to raise 20,000 associates who will train 2 million church planters to plant 20 million churches by 2020.
Church Teams which is web-based group software to track ,map, and empower church small groups