Read: Romans 14:1

Small groups will teach you how to be a better listener. I learned how to listen by attending small groups. When you show respect with courtesy it means you listen to people. You look them in the eye.

Proverbs 18:2 says this “Fools have no interest in understanding. They only want to air their own opinions.” That sounds like a talk show, doesn’t it? Fools don’t care about anybody else’s ideas or thoughts. They only want to share their own opinion.

The Bible says this in Romans 14:1 in the Message paraphrase, “Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with-even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.”

We’re always judging people by how far they have to go instead of thanking God for how far they’ve already come. So, we share our thoughts with humility and we show respect to others with courtesy.

Let me share with you some of the rules of engagement in our small group:

· We will keep confidential the things that people share in our group.

· We will study the Bible together, but we will not debate about religion.

· We will spend time in prayer for each other during our meetings and during the week.

· We will meet in different group member’s homes on a voluntary basis.

· We will only serve light snacks. We do not obligate the host to serve a full meal.

· We will invite others to join our group. We will try to make new comers feel welcome.

· Our meetings will last one hour and a half.

We also have what we call CREDO(Creating and Developing Openness). This is the Main Event of every small group meeting. Because we really need to get to know each other. So, we’ll go around the circle so each person can answer identified questions.

Let’s try the CREDO(Creating and Developing Openness) in your small group.

When you were a child, who was your favorite hero on T.V. or the movies? Tell why you like that hero. Everyone takes turn in answering the questions and keep it short.

The book of Acts tells us about the first group of Christians. In a sense, they are our heroes as Christians. We can see many things that they experienced that we also want to experience as a fellowship of believers.

Read Acts 5:42.

In what two places did these first believers meet to learn more about the Good News that Jesus is the Savior? That’s right! In the temple and houses. 

Let me share with you how this relates to small groups: We believe that if a church is going to follow the Bible’s example, it must grow larger and smaller at the same time. That means that the Sunday morning worship celebration will grow larger as more people come to know Christ and gather to express their love for Him through worship. At the same time the church will become smaller as it has more and more small groups (we call them Small Groups) where people can experience “the personal touch” of the Christian life. As we meet together in this group we can all have an opportunity to worship God, share our problems, ask questions, find answers together in the Bible, help each other when we have needs, and pray for each other. We can also bring “outsiders” into this family of believers and show them what God’s love is all about. What we are doing here is what the first Christians were doing in Acts.

Read Acts 2:42-47. Based on these verses, list the things we know about the first church in Jerusalem.

What do you think you would have enjoyed most if you could have been a part of that first group of believers?

If your own small group is going to have the same kind of experiences that those first Christians had, what do you think are some things we might have to change in our lives?