You can find this book in full-text at Google here.
Why Small Groups?: Together Toward Maturity is edited by C.J. Mahaney and includes a compilation of articles on small groups from many seasoned pastors across the nation. This book is primarily geared toward equipping leaders to lead small groups, but is certainly beneficial for those who want deepen their current small group involvement. Also, those who are still considering or questioning the small-group (aka, home-group, care-group, family-group, etc.) rout and it's biblical foundations will find no better Scripture-centered discussion of small-groups than here.
Small groups provide an environment that cultivates biblical fellowship and sanctification. Biblically, the Christian faith is designed to thrive in a community setting. Though fellowship certainly occurs in many ways and at many times, small-groups are a way to ensure consistent, long-term, gospel-focused meetings between members of a local church. In most churches going to Sunday School and hearing a sermon in "Big Church" (even if they are sound, expository studies) is an inadequate means of sanctification. Small groups are not bible studies. They are geared to create a climate that allows for Christians to meet with the intention of walking together in faith. From serving one another to serving with one another; from rebuking sin to applying the weekly sermon; from praying together for a lost parent to accountability for one's private struggles; from grieving together over the loss of a sibling or parent to celebrating the arrival of a new baby; from providing a meal for one who is sick to sharpening spiritual gifts; from personality conflicts to biblical reconciliation--small groups get people into real community and challenge those who would otherwise only relate to their Christian friends on a superficial level. Fellowship is essential to the Christian life. Talking doctrine once a quarter over a styrofoam plate of fried chicken, green bean casserole, and rolls does not create the type of fellowship envisioned in Acts 2. Small groups are a way to become skilled at experiencing true fellowship with those of your local church.
"Genuine fellowship isn't practical in a crowd of 200 or 2,000. That's why I feel so strongly that churches must create small groups where Christians can develop intimate relationships, where they can 'know and be known.' A church following a biblical model will not just 'have' small groups. It will not merely 'offer' small groups. Rather, it will be built with small groups." (Mahaney, 3)
"Opportunities to fall in love, get married, procreate, pursue a career, go bungee jumping, play baseball, or go to school are all open to humanity in general. But only Christians can experience fellowship. For this reason alone, this unique quality of Christian existence should be exceedingly precious to us." (Loftness, 19-20)
"Small groups provide an excellent context in which to pursue many of the vital goals of church life that are difficult, if not impossible, to pursue on Sunday mornings." (Mullery, 47)
"Small groups can provide excellent opportunities for us to die to excessive love of comfort by embracing the changes and challenges God brings our way." (Butler, 77)
"The most important decision one will ever make is whether he or she will be devoted to Jesus Christ. And devotion to Jesus Christ cannot be effectively implemented without a devotion to the local church." (Harvey, 92)
"[It] is absolutely essential to realize that [para-church] ministries exist largely because local churches have fallen short of their biblical mandate. Truly, para-church ministries are evidence of the unpaid debt of the local church." (Harvey, 103)
"I find no New Testament examples of ministries that operated independently of local churches." (Harvey, 104)
Anyone who is leading a small group needs to read this. There are crucial chapters on small group leadership filled with wisdom and insight on how to maintain a healthy small group. This was a great read. It's easy to read and can be read in one day. Check it out.
Thoughts? Comments? Questions?
Next post: Rejuvenile: Kickball, Cartoons, Cupcakes, and the Reinvention of the American Grown-up by Christopher Noxon. Get a preview here.)