Traditionally, during the first month of the year, people develop resolutions, an accountability list (goals they share with others for accountability), or a word of intention (one word they use to thematically characterize the year).
The above techniques are good and have their arena of effectiveness. But here’s a simple challenge for you as you navigate 2023. Join a small group (SG) or create one! Join the SG to do ministry for your church—putting into practice the “I will go!” theme, to accomplish good for others in your community, or to accomplish personal growth goals.
Small groups have awesome power. Margaret Mead echoes the “change value” of SG: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Ellen White emphasized the “spiritual value” of SG: “The formation of small companies as a basis of Christian effort is a plan that has been presented to me by One who cannot err.”* And Luke illustrated the “growth value” of SG in the expansion of the early church: “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah” (Acts 5:42, NIV).
The SG tool has been around for a long time, but is often easy to overlook. Yet creating or becoming a part of the right one can accelerate your meaning and maturation.
Countless research has demonstrated that a SG helps to add depth to realizing the meaning of life as you relate to others and experience a sense of community; it allows the opportunity to appreciate and respect others as well as yourself. There are few things to match SGs in growing faith and ministering development.
Here are seven practical ways that proper SGs and subsequent involvement can provide you with a platform for power. This CHAPTER approach will help you to combine personal action to your prayers for blessings, expansion, and a life of righteousness (see 1 Chron. 4:10).
C—Construct for improvement: small groups can put you amid people who can motivate, and inspire you to be a better believer, family member, community citizen, and authentic person.
H—Haven of belonging: small groups can provide you with a safe, loving context where you can better realize your purpose and aspire to be more earthly good and heavenly-focused.
A—Agency for spiritual growth: the right SG can help strengthen the building blocks of spiritual growth, namely, Bible study, prayer, proper use of talents, and service to others.
P—Partners of accountability: small group members can help to motivate you to follow after righteousness.
T—Team of “empowerers”: a positive small group with a good support system can affirm the good and beckon you to a higher standard.
E—Ensemble of seekers: a well-composed small group can nurture the desire for more and deeper truth.
R—Resilience for righteousness: when one is tempted to be fearful, grow weary, be discouraged, and overwhelmed, a spiritual small group can provide just the needed prayer and support.
If you’re in a good small group, great. If not, join or begin one as soon as possible. You’ll be blessed.
* Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 7, pp. 21, 22.