Small Group Meetings

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TheOldCourse

Puritan Board Sophomore
Not all church innovations are wrong. Many innovations—changing from songbooks to a projection system, for example, or creating fellowship events during the week—don't change the elements of worship. Yet speaking personally, I find it easy to get grouchy about such things when I believe the church is not worshipping the way I believe (my Bible-based convictions, not my personal preferences) the church should be worshipping. And I end up with, in effect, an attitude better described as a fault-finding principle.

Does that explain things better?

Granting, for the sake of argument, that projection vs. songbook is a circumstantial aspect of worship and thus left to prudence, it doesn't seem that small group ministry is analogous. I doubt that you would argue that projecting hymnody or psalmody is edifying in itself in distinction from reading it in a book. You seem to be contending, however, that small groups promote spiritual vitality which means they cannot be circumstantial. If we are to view them as compatible with the RPW we either have to defend them (or their constituent parts) as being commanded by Scripture or not as actual worshipful acts and therefore part of the common life of the Christian. But both defenses would have significant implications for how they are done. Perhaps a case may be made either way, but you seem to be both contending for them as part of the worship of the Church and as not requiring clear warrant from Scripture. This, to me, seems counter-confessional.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
One thing we did to illiminate a lot of the concerns here in the Elder Led Baptist Church I was a member of for a decade was to have Church deacons and Elders involved with the groups. We also focused on the scripture preached that week. I got to meet Dale Ralph Davis because of that. We were going through 1st and 2nd Samuel. And our Pastor was using his notes.

My point about this is that solid teaching may occur during these times. I have seen it become disruptive. I am taking some young men through John Owen's Sin and Temptation right now as a book reading group under my Elders authority. I would always encourage Elder over sight. But cell groups without accountability and reports about that accountability lead to bad things in my estimation.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
You seem to be contending, however, that small groups promote spiritual vitality which means they cannot be circumstantial. If we are to view them as compatible with the RPW we either have to defend them (or their constituent parts) as being commanded by Scripture or not as actual worshipful acts and therefore part of the common life of the Christian. But both defenses would have significant implications for how they are done. Perhaps a case may be made either way, but you seem to be both contending for them as part of the worship of the Church and as not requiring clear warrant from Scripture. This, to me, seems counter-confessional.

I don't think of small groups as part of the worship service. I think they can exist and promote spiritual vitality while still falling outside of the corporate worship service. I didn't realize anyone might think differently.
 

TheOldCourse

Puritan Board Sophomore
I don't think of small groups as part of the worship service. I think they can exist and promote spiritual vitality while still falling outside of the corporate worship service. I didn't realize anyone might think differently.

Here's, perhaps, where the confusion lies and where I may have read into your comments something you didn't intend:

"I also will suggest we need to be careful not to turn the regulative principle into the fault-finding principle... where we show up for worship prepared to find fault with anything jovial, innovative, or seeming to distract from the church taking due care to have the sort of worship we wish the church was having."

Your comment regarding projectors also seemed to tie, by analogy, small groups as being seen as a circumstance of worship rather than something altogether different in my reading.

Regardless, I'm not saying many (any?) view them as "the corporate worship service," but rather as "a corporate worship service." It is perhaps not viewed as coordinate with but rather subordinate to the Lord's Day service but nonetheless it is where members of the church gather for purposes of worshipping God and growing in grace under certain ordinances like congregational singing, mini-sermons (though often called teaching), and corporate prayer. When viewed as such, explicitly or implicitly, the RPW still obtains.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
To be clear, I would never advocate that people treat a small group meeting as a worship service. I don't know where that idea came from, nor can I see how it might be inferred from my posts, but I apologize for any lack of clarity.

In any case, I fear this particular rabbit trail has ceased to be edifying for this thread.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
I like what Jack said. "How" is more important than "if". For many Christians the opportunity for fellowship and establishing relationships is scarce. Not every church has fellowship meals after worship. Many people leave after the worship service and seldom see other believers until the next Lord's day. Small groups, if done well, offer fellowship as well as teaching. The content of a small group will probably echo the doctrinal position of the church, so that's either a good or bad thing. If the group is officially sanctioned by the church, there should be some form of pastoral oversight.
 
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