Small groups can be good for your faith!

First published on: 7th April 2021

As part of #MoreThanSunday we have been looking at small groups and how they can help people feel supported and develop their faith. Bishop Mark Ashcroft shares his own experience of being part of small discipleship groups.

A small group from St Mary, Ellenbrook

"A teenager at school was invited to be part of a small group studying the Bible. The invitation included cake which proved pretty irresistible! Much to his surprise, the teenager was asked to lead one of the future sessions on one of the fruit of the Spirit. Both nervous and excited, the preparation was squeezed in in the middle of homework and other activities. The day came and the session went OK.

That teenager was me and began my journey of benefitting from small groups. Participating and occasionally leading, helped me to deepen my faith and love for the Bible. What I learn from a sermon or a talk is really helpful, but sharing with others in a small group has always (well nearly always) been enriching.

As a vicar, small groups were the backbone of congregational life. For they are places that are safe and allow people to ask questions, a place where community is developed and people are supported in their struggles, a place where new Christians can grow in their understanding, and above all a place where we can work out together how the stories in the Bible can be applied to everyday life and faith #MoreThanSunday.

Some people suggest that this might be just for middle class parishes in the suburbs. My own experience has been that even when people struggle with reading and writing and where books are not commonly used, small groups are really helpful and you can always use DVDs or podcasts instead of books.

Others suggest that small groups are difficult in lockdown. In fact, some parishes have seen their small groups grow threefold over the last year. Those with small children and those who find it difficult to get out in the evening or have transport difficulties are finding it much easier to be involved. And there are low-tech solutions to communications that don’t depend on Zoom.

We have been discussing small groups in our #MTS discipleship pilots, and many people have also found them to be really beneficial as a way of feeling supported and developing their faith.  So if you have never been part of a group I would encourage you to take the first step and see if there is a small group at your church you can join. Or if your church has never had small groups, why not consider setting one up?"

We have a couple of videos to help you on your journey. One from St Mary, Ellenbrook hears from group members about how important their small group has become during lockdown.

The other, from St Martin, Norris Bank, describes how to set up a group.

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