Small Groups: The Heart of the Church

Speaker: Categories: Nov 13, 1993


[1hr, 8sec / 33min, 43sec]


Some years ago this writer was introduced to the concept of small groups by Pastor Darrell Holtz. It was a new and different way for bringing church members together. It was somewhat intimidating -- for those in attendance at that first meeting were told that they would become so joined together that anyone of them might feel comfortable calling on any other member for assistance or for any other reason at any time of the day or night! Furthermore, those persons participating would get to know each other in deeply meaningful and unique ways -- good points, bad points, problems, and joys. In addition, each person participating had to commit himself/herself to regular attendance on the designated night selected for meeting during the next eight weeks as one of the shorter books of the Bible would be studied! The group would be called a Home Bible Fellowship or HBF.

Would you want to become involved in such a setting? Well, my wife Averille and I did! It was intimidating. It was challenging. It was meaningful. It was valuable. And, we did get to know six other church members in ways never experienced before.

Perhaps you have had a similar aha! discovery experience and could testify to the benefits of such small group settings. Perhaps you, too, felt hesitant, reluctant, even intimidated by becoming open and vulnerable to those folks with whom you kept a respectable and proper social distance on Sabbath morning or at the mid-week prayer meeting or the Friday evening vespers.

Dr. Clarence Schilt, author of a newly released book, Dynamic Small Groups and How to Make Them Happen, our November speaker, notes: "Since the church is God's agent of reconciliation in the world, it should be primarily concerned with bringing people together in right relationship to God and each other. This means that the number one priority of the church's life will be the personal healing and building up of people. It means that the question that must be our constant preoccupation is, how can we better contribute to the healing and building of people? All our efforts [emphasis supplied] must be targeted to the goal of making us more effective agents of God for reconciliation."

Is that not a rather bold declaration? All our efforts . . . for reconciliation! The number one priority of the church's life! The question that must be our constant preoccupation!

He adds, "Our task is to provide settings and structures that provide opportunities for reconciling ministry. The small group is one of the best vehicles for enabling us to be what God intends us to be -- a people sharing Christ's life together, meeting each other's needs, and reaching out in love to the world."


W. Clarence Schilt has spent all but the past three and half years of his ministry pastoring in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and California. He has just become the senior pastor of the Calimesa, California, church after serving as professor of religion at Loma Linda University. A graduate of Columbia Union College, Dr. Schilt holds degrees from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University (M.A. and M.Div.) and Fuller Theological Seminary (D.Min.). He has written for several periodicals. His recent book, Dynamic Small Groups: How to Make Them Happen, is a result of his conviction that small groups can revitalize Christian fellowship in the Church. His wife, Dianna, is a second grade school teacher. They have two daughters, both graduates of Walla Walla College.


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