The main goal for small groups at Arlington Baptist Church is to build greater fellowship among the members of ABC in the context of Bible study, sharing, prayer, mutual accountability, and fellowship. In order to give small group leaders a common vision, the elders have provided the following encouragements:
The elders generally encourage small groups to engage in Bible studies over book studies. However, this does not rule out a book study; rather, it behooves the small group leader to speak with an elder at the outset of the group.
Word and Prayer
The elders would encourage both Bible study and prayer to be a part of any small group. A good rule of thumb would be to spend equal time on each. However, the elders believe the exact balance is at the discretion of the small group leader.
The elders recognize that accountability is profitable for Christian growth, and small groups may have aspects of accountability incorporated accordingly. However, unless the small group has only a few members, the elders would encourage the small group leader to use the small group to encourage close relationships among group members where accountability might flourish in either a one-on-one or one-on-few format.
While fellowship is a natural outworking of small groups and a blessing to the congregation, it is not a goal of small groups nor should it gain importance above the aspects of Bible study or prayer. The elders believe it is at the discretion of the small group leader how much time should be given to fellowship.
Open vs. Closed
All current groups are “open” or able to take new members. In general, the elders would like to continue this practice, though stressing that commitment to a small group should be taken seriously. The exception to this general rule of “open groups” would be a group specifically-focused on training Bible study leaders. The elders would be responsible for setting up this group’s teacher and members.