Why Small Groups?
In Bowling Alone: The Collapse & Revival of American Community, Robert Putnam makes the careful & compelling case that social connectedness has declined precipitously since the emergence of the baby boom generation. It’s a dramatic decline crossing age, socio-economic, gender, racial lines. It gets worse for each generation beginning with the baby boom. Which means that more and more of us have less and less contact with each other. According to Putnam, this makes us crankier, more depressed, subject to physical malaise, headaches, etc. Or as the author of Genesis put it, “It’s not good for the human to be alone.”
In the New Testament, the word translated “church” has three referents: the church universal, the church in a given city, and the church meeting in a particular home “Greet the church that meets in Priscilla & Aquila’s house.” (see Romans 16: 3-5); “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” (Acts 2: 46)
The path of Jesus brand spirituality (discipleship) involves moving from the crowd into community and involvement with Christ’s cause. Small groups make that transition possible. They provide an opportunity to practice the “one another” sayings of the New Testament, like “love one another,” “forgive one another,” etc. They are, like the bar in the old sit-com “Cheers” a place where “everybody knows your name.”
Small Group Values at the Ann Arbor Vineyard
1. We value keeping a focus on the person of Christ. We all come from different backgrounds, with different political views, life experiences, etc. Small groups are a place for us to share a common pursuit of Christ, respecting our differences.
2. We value relationship. It’s been said that relationship is the currency of Christ’s kingdom. Small groups provide a setting for the development of honest, open, and caring relationship.
3. We value authenticity. Small groups are a place for us to be honest about our struggles, as we grow secure in relationships with others.
4. We value respect the dignity of each individual. Participants in small groups are encouraged not to give unsolicited advice and to respect the privacy of individuals.
5. We value the Bible as the living word of a living God. Most groups help participants engage the truth of scripture in a way that impacts personal life.
6. We value intimacy with God through worship. Most (but not all) groups include some opportunity for worship, primarily through song.
7. We value learning to pray as Jesus did. For those new to prayer, small groups can be a place to learn by listening, observing, and when ready, practicing. We encourage participants to pray for each other’s needs, including praying for the sick and the empowering of the Spirit.
8. We value the gifts of the Spirit. Small groups afford a place to grow in understanding and practice of the spiritual gifts—ways in which Christ uniquely empowers each person to express the grace of God to others.
9. We value thoughtfulness. Small groups are a place to engage the mind, through study, learning, discussion.
10. We value hospitality. We encourage groups to always remain open and welcoming to newcomers.
11. We value teamwork. Participants are encouraged to pitch in, helping to serve various leadership functions as able, taking turns providing refreshments, organizing to assist participants in responding to personal needs. Most groups have a host, leader, assistant leader, refreshment coordinator and other roles to take advantage of people’s varied gifts.
12. We value a passionate pursuit of Christ. Christianity is a spiritual journey. Small groups are designed to be incubators for spiritual growth.
It's Who We Are...