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Pastor Rick shared these practical reasons during his weekly webcast for pastors involved in 40 Days in the

Word. You can hear the whole message at http://40daysintheword.com/webcast/. Here are seven marks of a healthy small group, based on Acts 2:42-47 (NIV): 1. Healthy small groups study the Bible. Small groups in the New Testament studied the Bible together. Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching …” Of course, we know the teaching of the apostles is what we call the New Testament today. They lived in an oral culture, but they were still studying lessons from the apostles. One thing you can do is have your small groups study what you taught the congregation on Sunday. At Saddleback, we have a group of volunteers who create “Talk It Over” guides that we put online Sunday night. These can be printed out and used by small groups during the week. They include questions related to the Scriptures we studied in the weekend services, plus additional verses to consider. The benefit of this is that it helps people focus on one Bible truth. Too often we teach too much. When I was growing up, I could go to church throughout the week and end up with as many as 13 different Bible studies. I started thinking, “My life can’t change that much.” Sometimes I think we teach too much, so something like the “Talk It Over” guide will allow your congregation to focus on one biblical truth a week. 2. Healthy small groups share life together. The Book of Acts says the early believers were devoted to fellowship (Acts 2:42). This means they were serious about their friendships. Notice the Bible says they were devoted to the fellowship, not just to fellowship. In other words, fellowship is not just something the church does; we are the fellowship. Jesus calls us to be committed to one another, and it is through small groups that we learn the skills of relationship. Small groups are laboratories of love, where we learn to obey the command of Jesus to love your neighbor as you love yourself. 3. Healthy small groups remember Jesus together. The Bible says the early believers devoted themselves “to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). The “breaking of bread” in this passage specifically refers to Communion (or the Lord’s Supper). In the early Church, they did not take Communion in a large worship setting. They served it in small groups. You will, of course, want to work within the tradition of your church, but at Saddleback we allow small groups to serve Communion. For one thing, Communion is only for believers, so a small group setting ensures only believers will take part. 4. Healthy small groups pray together. The Bible says the early believers devoted themselves to prayer (Acts 2:42). Jesus taught that there is a power to prayers spoken aloud for each other, and he made an incredible promise about small groups of believers: “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (Matthew 18:20 NASB). In the intimacy and confidentiality of small groups, we can pray for each other as we share our hurts, reveal our feelings, confess

We’ve decentralized by giving them permission to engage in ministry as a small group. Healthy small groups are generous. I got up and told the congregation. 7.” There are small groups at Saddleback doing all kinds of ministry that I know nothing about. and small groups offer an opportunity to worship together. “The Church just did. and ask for help. She bought the homeless person a meal and then provided him with a bus ticket to where a sister lived. A few years ago. Let me give you an example. “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). We need to worship God more than once a week. the Saddleback member told me about it and said. Small groups allow us to help each other with practical needs. The early Church had decentralized ministries. They were inviting others to join them. Healthy small groups witness together. one of our members met someone who had been in a bad situation and ended up homeless. Can I loan you a car? Can I provide you with some meals when you are sick? Check Out Steve Gladen's newest must-have book for small group leaders! We tend to centralize ministries. One of the proofs of a healthy small group is that it . The Church should do something about it. “I release you to assist the poor and feed the hungry and help the homeless. The Bible says these small groups gave “to anyone who had need” (Acts 2:45 NIV).” I said. creating a food pantry or a counseling center. The next day. 6. Healthy small groups worship together. acknowledge our weaknesses. so that’s what we try to do at Saddleback. “praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people” (Acts 2:47). disclose our doubts. “There are lots of homeless people. 5. admit our fears.” The next Sunday. As these small groups met together. The Bible says the New Testament small groups worshiped together.our failures. But this wasn’t the New Testament model.

Small groups can be creative in outreach. but they also use the extra tickets to invite others to come with the group. but they also bought some extra tickets. But that allows them to say. so a small group may add members. They don’t start a Bible study at the game. they just have fun. They go together to each game. For instance. but a small group may also help start another small group. “This same group meets on Tuesday nights for Bible study. Would you like to join us?” . one small group at Saddleback pooled their money and bought season tickets for the San Diego Chargers for everyone in the group.reproduces.