3 Keys to a Healthy Small Group

Guest post by 217church Staff Pastor Matt Murphy

When Jesus left earth He gave us His final commissioning as His disciples. He told us to “Go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all I have commanded.” In that commissioning He gave us a new identity. He gave us the identity as disciple makers. None of us are exempt from that. The role of disciple maker is not just reserved for paid professionals. He gave us the identity as being a disciple. If we are going to teach Christ’s commands we must know and live them out ourselves. Jesus didn’t just know, He lived. Jesus gave us the identity of the Trinity. In the trinity we are sent as witnesses by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are servants of the Son because He served us, and we are part of God’s family because He adopted us as His children. Because of Jesus we are disciples sent as a family of servant missionaries to make disciples.


Discipleship is the point of the church. It is what the church is called to do. We do that through many different venues. One key one is the small group structure of the church. In fact, when we study the early church we see that they organized in smaller family type groups. We cannot explore what it means to be a disciple of Jesus in the context of a room full of 100s of people in an hour a week. We should be doing life with people in the context of a spiritual family. It is important that we have a small group of people that we know by name that we can do life regularly with. Do you have that in your life? Does the small group that you are in do that

If you are in a small group I want you to ask yourself the question is discipleship happening? If that is the point, is it happening? Let me be clear discipleship is not just the passing along of Christ’s teachings. Jesus proclaimed the good news with both word and deed.


Here are three things that every healthy disciple making small group will have.

  1. Family 

I think that this is the most important one. Jesus said, “by your love for one another they will know me.” Jesus spent a lot more time building the relationship with His disciples than actually teaching them. I could write a whole blog series on the importance of family but if you don’t like each other no one will want to come. Family knows each other deeply and how to apply the truths of Jesus to every situation.  Family spends time together outside of the meeting. In my own family I have organized family times but we also have a lot of organic times we hang out. In your small group do you spend any time together outside of your meeting just having fun and getting to know each other? A healthy family will see each other regularly and often outside of the meeting.

2. Gospel 

Does every member of your small group know the good news of Jesus? Do they know it so well that they can apply it to every area of life? Every area of scripture points to the good news of Jesus. No matter what you are studying you can point it back to Jesus and the good news. A small groups time of study should be focused on the Gospel because the Gospel is the point of scripture.

3. Neighborhood 

Does your group have a heart for a neighborhood? There is are people in your neighborhood that need your family and the good news of Jesus. It goes beyond just serving. If your small group serves, great, but are you building relationships in the midst of that? Do you know multiple names of people in a neighborhood? Do you know there stories so well that you can bring the good news of Jesus to their life? Every healthy small group has a neighborhood that their heart breaks for and orients everything that small group does.

Does your small group have these functioning in a healthy way? What area could your group use the most help? Discuss it as a group. Get coaching in the area you are weakest and make it a strength. We are human so we will never have the perfect group but by God’s Grace we can walk more in step with what it means to be a disciple maker.

Matt is the staff pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here.


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