I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the term “Christian Small Group,” but it’s been big at my church for the last several years. When my pastors first started talking about it, I thought they meant a Sunday school class or a Bible study. Turns out they meant an accountability and friendship group of Christians, typically in my life stage, where we hang out together, meet regularly, and generally do life together.
A few years ago, we decided to try it. My spouse and I, with the help of my church, found some other couples with kids roughly our age, and we took the plunge. We started meeting weekly. Over the years, the group has changed a little. Two couples have stepped away for various life reasons, and three other couples have joined. Instead of weekly, now we meet biweekly. At first our gatherings were mostly social events where we would share the secrets of our past in a confidential setting and help each other stay on track with the kind of people we were hoping to become in Christ. Later we started doing Bible studies, or an occasional group service project.
Now, I look around and realize this isn’t merely a small group—this is my inner-circle Christian family. Being a part of the group has helped me in tremendous ways.
Here, I share some of the ways:
1. It’s helped me be a better spouse
Being around other Christian couples be really helpful. I’m able to see how they get along and can learn from them. I can be a model for them, too. I’m rooting for their marriages to thrive, grow, honor God, and be happy, and I know they are rooting for mine to do the same. It’s a really good feeling, and it helps—especially in a world where marriage is not always so valued.
2. It’s helped me be a better parent
I can read all the advice books I want, but there’s no substitute for having a core group of quality Christian parents around that you can chat with when you are having an issue with a child. I learn good parenting techniques from my friends just by watching how they scold or praise or reign in chaos. And we are there for each other when needed, too. We’ve watched each other’s kids in a pinch, picked them up from school, and hosted sleepovers when needed.
3. It’s helped me be a better friend
In life, we often have fair-weather friends who are fun to hang out with but slip away when the going gets rough or circumstances shift. But these men and women in my group are real friends. We stick things out together. And they have helped me really understand what it means to be a true, Godly friend.
4. It’s helped me be a better disciple
Whether it’s social gatherings or Bible studies or doing a service project, being around my small group friends is both educational and inspiring. Together we are actively taking steps to grow in our faith. All of that helps me think about Jesus more and serve Him better—and realign my life so He is at the center.
5. It’s helped me stay accountable
Temptations surround us every day. Having a group of good Christian friends around me helps keep me in check.
6. It’s forced me to read Bible studies even when I think I don’t have the time
Don’t get me wrong—I like Bible studies. A lot. But I’m really busy! Like, all the time. Sometimes it’s tempting to set the study aside for a little while during a busy season and plan to come back to it later, and things settle down. But when the rest of my group is doing a Bible study, I don’t really want to be the only one who’s not participating. Knowing my friends, who are also busy, are doing the study gives me the push I need to carve out just a little extra time.
7. It’s helped me realize I’m not an island
My family struggled with a major decision not too long ago, and at first it was really tempting to keep our private business to ourselves. Then we realized we had a whole crew of people around us, sent by God to help us in our journey. Sharing what we were going through with them brought us all closer, and it ended up helping us make some decisions.
8. It’s helped me realize the importance of going to church
I used to think going to church wasn’t that important. Sure, I went, and I knew we needed to go to learn and worship God, and I knew it pleased God, but I often felt just as connected to God in nature as I did in a worship setting. My small group has made me realize that Christ wanted us to start the church for each other. One of the primary purposes of the church is to surround ourselves with others in the faith and do life together, whether that is pray or serve or sing or talk.
There are a lot more benefits I could list. But I’m curious—what do you think? Are you part of a small group? If so, how has it impacted your life? Comment below!