On a Tuesday night, I sat in my dimly lit car sobbing to my husband. We had just left our weekly church small group, and I felt defeated. It seemed as if all the other women in the group were already friends and all had the same personalities. They were moms, but I was newly married and childless. They were quiet and nurturing while I was loud and overenthusiastic. They stayed at home while I had a full-time job. I felt completely different and isolated. And I did not want to return the next week.
Perhaps you have felt the same way in your local church, or maybe you are fearful of this situation and avoid small groups altogether. Because of these fears and multiple other reasons, many of us are asking the same question—why should I belong to a small group?
While the Bible never specifically mentions “small groups,” the Apostle Paul does encourage believers to regularly meet together. He explains why gathering with fellow Christians is important in Hebrews 10:24–25 which says, “And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.” Paul exhorts the church to faithfully meet so that they could all remain faithful to the Lord.
Believers are called to be a part of the Church because of our faith in Christ. God has promised both to save His people through the sacrifice of His Son and equip us for good works through the Spirit until He returns in glory (2 Timothy 3:17). And He will never break His promise to us because He is faithful.
However, we are not always faithful. We forget where our hope is found. We look around at the world and are tempted by its false promises. We hear the stories of CEOs and politicians striving alone to make it to the top, and we begin to believe that we can love and obey God without the help of others. We watch the strong and proud rise in power and fame, and we try to emulate them rather than walking humbly and vulnerably alongside brothers and sisters in Christ.
We want to hold fast to our hope in Jesus, but our flesh is weak and easily enticed. We need others to remind us of the love and faithfulness of God, and likewise, out of our faith in Christ, we can encourage others toward Him. And that is why we need the Church. The Spirit often uses the community of believers to encourage us to persevere, to love God and others, and where we in turn can be used by God to motivate fellow believers. The Church can repeatedly renew our hope in Christ. Our faith in Christ leads us to our faithfulness to His Church.
Belonging to a local church is an essential part of the Christian life. And belonging means so much more than regularly attending a worship service. We are to live in close connection with other believers to share in their joys and their struggles. Church membership includes being actively involved in the lives of other believers and allowing them access to your life as well. It is knowing their joys and struggles and encouraging them in all seasons toward loving God and others. Godly community helps us grow in love and be encouraged to do good works through the Spirit. But we will only be able to do this when we regularly meet together. This is where small groups become vital. When we regularly meet other believers and spend time praying, confessing, and learning from each other, we will be encouraged toward love and good works that bring glory to God.
Eventually, I did return to my small group. My husband, another believer, lovingly encouraged me to remain faithful to the church because of the faithfulness of Christ. And over time, my small group became my family. Once we deeply knew one another, we were able to encourage each other toward God and godly living. My intimacy with God increased as did my desire to obey Him as I was encouraged by others who knew Him. I thank God daily for the gift of my small group, and I hope that each of you finds the same joy and encouragement in your church.
If you are not yet part of a small group, prayerfully consider joining one. If you have hesitations or fears about joining a community, cast your cares upon the Lord in prayer. And remember, you were not meant to live alone. You were created to live faithfully alongside others to be loved and encouraged as we all await the day we can see Jesus face to face.
Additional resources on the Church: