When the Hardin Valley church began in May 2006, the decision was made to have weekly small group Bible study meetings, called “Soul Talks” rather than a corporate gathering on Sunday evenings. A “Soul Talk” is an intentional face to face gathering of 5-15 people on at a regular time with the common purpose of growing in Christ, learning more about God’s Word, encouraging one another, and reaching out to non-members. There is no standard time for Soul Talks to meet. Most of our groups meet some time Sunday evening, but we have other groups that meet on Monday and Friday evenings and special men’s and women’s studies that meet on Tuesday or Thursday mornings or nights.
Top ten reasons for adding small groups to your spiritual life.
- Small groups provide a comfortable introduction for nonbelievers. Inviting someone to a small group meeting provides a way to introduce a nonbeliever to life in a community of believers—watching them live out their faith, listening to them pray, hearing them share God’s work in their life, and learning more about the Bible. The nonbeliever is more likely to ask questions, get answers, and form relationships with the believers. Small groups are a powerful evangelism tool.
- Small groups provide an ideal way to identify needs of members. When one believer in a small group is struggling financially, emotionally, spiritually, socially, etc., it is much easier for the members of the group to notice and provide help. The structure of a small group is essentially a community of believing friends. Christian friends help one another.
- Small groups encourage Christians to live their faith. If Sunday morning is for worshipping and encouraging us in our faith, the rest of the week is for living in response to our faith. Whether it’s discussing the Sunday sermon and its application in our lives, talking about a spiritual battle, or discussing a chapter in the Bible and its application, small groups provide a foundation for Christians to live out their faith in real life.
- Small groups participate in focused prayer. Prayer cannot be over-rated, but it is often under-practiced. Small group members share prayer requests and pray for one another. Small groups make for great prayer meetings.
- Small groups allow for mutual edification. We know that God gives spiritual gifts to all believers, and Christians should minister to others using his or her gifts. This happens naturally, effectively, and purposefully in small groups.
- Small groups foster close relationships. The small group atmosphere is ready-made for building friendships and relationships that allow each of us to grow spiritually and as a body. People talk more in small groups making it easy to develop common bonds. The relationships formed within small groups form a strong fabric within a church.
- Small groups help cultivate leadership. Small groups give opportunities for leadership development within the church. The responsibilities are not time-consuming and can be expanded as leaders develop.
- Small groups provide encouragement and accountability. It’s easy to slip in and out of church unnoticed, even on Sunday evenings. Some members may need accountability in their lives, encouragement in their walk with God, or help in other ways. Small groups provide a way to better meet these needs in a loving, nurturing relationship.
- Small groups encourage better learning. Listening to a sermon is a great way to learn the Word, but it is too easy to become passive listeners or let our minds wander. In a small group when only a few people are together, every individual is typically involved and participates. This active involvement is an effective way to learn.
- Small groups provide a comfortable atmosphere for openness. Small groups meet in homes. Homes are usually comfortable places—places devoid of pews, stages, and formality. They give opportunities for people to open up, listen, learn, and grow.