I’ve heard many different names–accountability groups, growth groups, d-groups, men’s and women’s groups, cell groups, core groups….and the number of names I haven’t heard could probably go on forever. Whatever they are called, these groups normally exist for Christians to help one another be faithful and growing Christians. The Bible is very clear that we are not on this Christian pilgrimage alone, that we were recreated to be members of a community, and these groups are practical expressions of that Biblical truth. Of course groups have different formats, meeting times, regularity, and emphases. My burden for these kinds of groups in our church, both now and into the future, is that they be Biblical. Here are a few kinds of group caricatures that I think stray from that fundamental priority.
1. A group where the Bible is not referenced at all. Practical advice is given, but the Word is never read, quoted, or paraphrased. This is not a faithful Biblical fellowship group.
2. A group where sin is discussed at length but grace and God are discussed minimally. This is not a reflection of the Bible and is therefore not faithful Biblical fellowship.
3. A group where holiness and sin are rarely referenced. This is not a reflection of the Bible’s call to be doers of the word but not hearers only. This is not faithful Biblical fellowship.
4. A group which intentionally functions as a substitute for private devotions or corporate church meetings. The Bible pictures Christians hearing teaching from called teachers, witnessing Baptism and the Lord’s supper, singing together, giving together, and praying together as a church body. The Bible also pictures Christians reading and meditating on God’s Word and pursuing a lifestyle of prayer. A group which intentionally substitutes for these pursuits is undermining these Biblical paradigms and is therefore not a faithful Biblical fellowship group. (Note the word intentional...)
Now let me say quite clearly: I am sure that groups I have led have tended in some or all of these directions!! I am speaking these warnings to my own heart as well as to any other leaders or participants. May the Lord gives us grace to have faithful Biblical fellowship, in whatever format (or title!) we choose, so that God can plant his Word in our hearts and make our lives worthy of the gospel that has called and saved us.