This was mainly done to emphasise the purpose of these groups. We do not meet together simply to study the bible, but to grow as people. A secondary motivation is to grow numerically as well, but it is mainly about personal growth.
Also, growth groups aren’t restricted to the traditional format of bible study groups either, although my group has retained that structure. A growth group is a group of usually 6-12 people who meet in a members lounge room. Often the group will pray, examine a book or topic in the bible and enjoy a coffee or snack together.
These groups allow the members to meet up and socialise outside of church. Often at a church meeting it is hard to catch up with more than a few of your acquaintances, let alone have an in depth discussion about problems you might be facing.
An important thing to remember is that a growth group isn’t always going to be about you. It is encouraging others in their Christian walk and letting them encourage you that makes us more effective as a community that is loving and in God’s image.
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbour for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Growth groups are a very important way we progress in our Christian faith. We have had a rule in the band at church that any member who is not in a growth group cannot play in the band. This is a rule that can sometimes appear harsh but is often borne out in fact. If you are not seeking God in your daily life you seldom come to play at church with the correct motivation.
One thing growth groups can sometimes be is introspective rather than outreaching, routine rather than radical. Nonetheless they are an essential means of figuring out what you really believe and a very important step on the path to understanding God better.
I encourage any Christian who isn’t in a growth group to take up the challenge next year and get more involved. For your growth, for your friends’ and for the wider churchs’ as well.