Saturday, January 14, 2012

Large or Small Gathering?

I would greatly appreciate your feedback. I know many churches who used to have Sunday night and/or Wednesday night services that made the switch to small groups (and thus canceled one or both evening meetings). I recognize the importance of gathering in smaller groups as well as the importance of gathering with the whole body and experiencing the several means of grace in a corporate setting.

If you had to choose between small or large gatherings, which would you choose and why?

My church presently has Sunday AM and PM corporate gatherings, plus a Wednesday night prayer meeting and Bible study. There are many reasons for me to rejoice in this. I also see the benefit of gathering together in small groups for prayer, accountability, application of the Scriptures, and encouragement. I do not see the benefit of adding another night to the busy schedule of people's lives.

So if you had to choose between small or large gatherings, which would you choose and why?


BrianB. said...

The church I serve made this move about 2 years ago. We still meet corporately on the 1st Sunday night of ever month, but moved to life/small bible study groups for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Sunday’s of the month. We also have life/small groups which continue to meet every Wednesday night.

We made this move right when my 2nd child was being born with a serve heart defect. Her medical condition (2 heart surgeries and a 3rd coming this summer) has caused me to have a somewhat disconnect of fully experiencing the lack of this (Sunday Night) preaching and move to life/small groups.

I do however have an opinion, which I normally keep to myself in and around the flock of my church but fill it’s ok to share here. I think life/small groups are important but not as important as the preaching of the Gospel. I personal think any church that removes a corporate worship service for life/small groups is moving backyards and not forwards in helping the sheep mature in Christ.

If I was an elder I would have a hard time agreeing to remove a corporate worship service without serious prayer and fasting, and without a superior majority vote of the elders. In corporate worship, the faithfulness of proclaiming the Gospel is there and in the open for all to see and hear. When it is done poorly, it can be lovely corrected. When it is done well, it can be humbly affirmed. But, in a small private life/small group, it is much tougher for the leadership of the church to make sure Christ is being exalted correctly and Christ is at the center of what the group is doing.

Please note my perspective is from a large church (3000-6000 members), which does not have a visible body of elder’s, but is Pastor led. I recognize in a much smaller church with a visible body of elders it would be much easier to monitor life/small groups, but I would still not vote for the removal of a corporate worship service unless impressed by the Spirit to do so.

Could God ever truly want the preaching of His Gospel ever to decrease? I don’t personally think so. I do not think a church has to specially add a corporate worship service, but only that if there are corporate services, one should not be removed.

Life/Small groups should be an ongoing thing in an ongoing community. The leadership does not help create community by removing the corporate preaching of the Gospel to promote the life/small groups. It’s the preaching of the Gospel that will create a true life/small group that exists outside the larger church context. It is the preaching of the Gospel that creates true community.

As a sheep, I desperately desire to have community in life/small groups. But, I desire more to come to the watering well of a corporate gathering and hear God’s word opened up and exalted. I need the preaching and proclamation of the Gospel more than I need community.

This is the first time I’ve put my ideas about this to paper, so to speak. I am sure there are some things I’m not thinking through correctly, so feel free to poke holes where needed. I am just an uneducated peasant so please forgive my choppy grammar and writing style.

I pray this helps and does not hinder whatever the Lord is doing in and through you and your church.

Pastor Randy said...


Thank you for the interaction! You have hit on a number of things that I've thought about. We are still working through this ourselves, and do not have any plans for the immediate future. This will give me some things to think and pray through as we do think how we can best equip and strengthen the saints.