Why Christian Small Groups?
One of the characteristics of church life which necessitates Christian small groups is that every pastor has a PCL, i.e. a personal contact limit. He or she is only able to minister effectively to a certain number of people. No pastor can continue to minister to increasing numbers of people indefinitely. At some stage or other the PCL level will be reached.
Each pastor has a different capacity. For some, their PCL may be 80 people; for others (super-pastors!) it may be 280. When the PCL is reached, however, the church will simply plateau. There will be no further numerical growth until delegation takes place. The church will need to be broken down into various
Christian small groups,
each with their own leader, for the purpose of pastoral care. This is nowhere better illustrated than when the children of Israel were in the wilderness. In Ex.18:13-27 we read that Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, observed the frustration of Moses attempting to care for the needs of the people on his own. He suggested a program of delegation to solve the problem. Moses listened to his advice and introduced an effective strategy of delegation.
In Deut.1:9-18 Moses recalled that situation and noted the following points:
1. Moses was not able to bear the burden of all the people alone (1:9&12)
2. He appointed leaders to share the responsibility with him (1:13&16)
3. They were leaders of groups the size of their abilities, i.e. some were captains over tens, others over hundreds, and even others over thousands (1:15)
4. They counselled according to their ability and referred the difficult cases to Moses (1:17)
5. The leaders who were chosen were spiritually fitted for the task (1:13&15)
6. The leaders themselves were shepherded by Moses (1:18)
This is a great model for church life today.
It is surprising that the introduction of is something which has taken place relatively recently in the life of the church. Up until, say 1970, hardly any churches had small groups.
What is even more surprising is that there are still some churches today trying to operate without them. Without doubt their pastors will reach their PCL, they will experience the same frustration Moses knew in the wilderness and their churches will plateau. Maybe they need to listen to Jethro’s counsel!