How Does Small Group Care Work?
For many years, the pastor has been expected to be the primary caregiver in the church. Should a pastor be a caring shepherd to the church? Yes, but the Scriptures command pastors to be the lead caretaker, rather than the sole caretaker within the body. It commands the body to care for one another. As a matter of fact, there are fifty-nine “one another” commands in the
New Testament. Here are just a few:
- “Carry each other’s burdens...” (Galatians 6:2)
- “...Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)
- “Confess your sins to each other...” (James 5:16)
- “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19)
- “Be kind and compassionate to one another...” (Ephesians 4:32)
- “...Pray for each other.” (James 5:16)
- “...Love one another deeply, from the heart.” (I Peter 3:8)
- “...Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)
- “...Make your love increase and overflow for each other.” (I Thessalonians 3:12)
For too long people have treated the church like a restaurant and not a family. In a restaurant, you walk in and expect to be served. However, in a family, you are committed to serving one another. Our church is a family, and we are to serve one another. The primary way for this to take place is within small groups, where intimate relationships are cultivated and sincere care for one another flourishes.
So, the question remains, how does care within groups work? Here are a few practical ways care works in small groups:
- First of all, members of a small group should pray for and with one another. Prayer can take place in your weekly meetings, or it can happen one-on- one when needs arise. You can pray for those in your group and ask those in your group to pray for you. Prayer is cherished when everything is going great or when everything is falling apart.
- In times of need, members and leaders of your small group are like first responders. Your small group leader or designated caregiver in the group is your first contact when a crisis happens and your second contact should be your pastor. Your group can pray for you, organize a meal train for you, handle tasks or errands for you, or help with any other practical needs that arise from a crisis.
- If you are in need of care, encouragement, and prayer, don’t assume everyone in your group, or your pastor knows it just because you posted something to social media. Make sure to text or call your group and your pastor when you have an urgent need.
- Give permission for others in your group to care for you. It’s easy to isolate yourself when things get hard, but remember we are eager to follow the “one another”commands in the Bible. Don’t rob another person of the opportunity to obey God by loving you well.
- Usually, when we think of “care,” we mean it in a reactive sense. Something bad happens in someone’s life, and so people get involved to “care” for them. However, there is a proactive way we can care for others within our groups through discipleship. In the same way, you are being equipped by your elders to live life on mission, you equip others in your group to do the same. You will be best “cared for” when you are growing and thriving in being part of making disciples through your small group.
- Lastly, be careful not to have unrealistic expectations of what care will look like. It may not turn out just like you think it should. But as long as other people are praying for you, checking on you, helping you, loving you, and encouraging you in the mission of your life to be a disciple who makes disciples, you can be grateful.
We desire to care for your needs, especially when the needs are significant (hospital, birth, death). Having a small group of gospel-centered people and having loving pastors care for you is both Biblical and practical. This is the kind of culture you can flourish in.