I grew up playing music. So, I may be biased here, but there is a section of any band that is more important than others: the rhythm section. The drummer and bass guitarist lay the musical foundation for everything to stand on.
You don’t know you have a solid rhythm section until you hear a bad one. When the timing is off, or the bassist isn’t in sync with the drummer, there isn’t a melody, riff, or singer that can save the band. The experience is uncomfortable, off-putting, and downright painful.
Small groups are quite similar. We provide a leader, curriculum, and some expectations, but why do so many fall apart? These are good people, trying to do the right thing, but the group just doesn’t move forward. They lack a compelling reason to be vulnerable, develop in their spiritual growth, and eventually just stop showing up.
What if we could establish a rhythm section in our small groups?
The Rhythms of Rooted provide a foundation for a small group to grow. These spiritual disciplines aren’t the means by which we grow, Jesus is the means, but let’s explore each one to see how they propel a group forward.
Daily Devotion – LifeWay led a significant study that revealed time in God’s Word as the far-and-away leading metric for a person’s spiritual growth. In fact, by developing a discipline of daily devotion, all other areas of our spiritual growth rise as well. More time in God’s Word means you serve more, give more, and are more deeply engaged in the local church.
Prayer – Learning to “pray continually” as 1 Thessolonians says is no easy task. Through this rhythm, we maintain our connection to God just as “Jesus and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Prayer is well beyond making requests to God; it is living in a stream of continuous relationship by “keeping in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).
Freedom from Strongholds – It is a sobering reality that while we have been saved, we still live and are affected by a broken world. Sin is not our master, but it still has an ability to entangle us. Groups can create a recurring environment for honest confession and prayer so that we can continually combat sin and live in the freedom paid for by Jesus.
Serve the Community – A group that only studies God’s Word together has a tendency to turn inward, caring primarily for themselves. Acts 2 paints a picture of biblical community that is both inward and outward focused. Maintaining a rhythm of serving reinforces to the group that we are most like Jesus when we do what Jesus did and are with the people He was with.
Sacrificial Generosity – God gave generously to us, therefore it is our responsibility to hold each other accountable to respond and grow in generosity. A consistent group conversation about giving counteracts greed, pride, and selfishness, while inviting us to experience the blessing of giving generously in response to God.
Share Your Story – God is alive and active today, writing remarkable stories in the lives of growing believers. Encouraging a small group to share stories with one another builds confidence to share those stories in the workplace, neighborhood or social circles. Mark 4 says Jesus was never without a story, using imagery to paint a picture of the kingdom of God. Our small groups are filled with stories that need to be shared with others.
Celebration – This is an act of worship, fully recognizing God’s presence and power in our lives. When we celebrate we transfer our attention from the story to the Author of the story. Throughout the Old Testament, we see God interact with His people, then they stop and build and alter, and worship God for what He has done. Imagine if our small groups practiced a rhythm of worshipping God together for what He has done in our midst.
These spiritual rhythms established in Rooted aren’t anything supernatural in themselves, but they each have a way of molding us to become more like Jesus. Jesus is the means and the end of our spiritual growth. We practice becoming more like Him and in the process, we are with Him.
Without a rhythm section, we feel it. The small group lacks momentum and will eventually call it quits.
What are the natural rhythms already present in your small groups? What would happen if we integrated spiritual disciplines into our groups calendar? How would your groups be different if they stood on a foundation of these spiritual rhythms?
Jared Kirkwood serves as Pastor to the Rooted Network, a ministry helping pastors build disciple-making churches. He is part of the Mariners Church teaching team and speaks at churches, camps, and conferences. He is an expert in leadership development and storytelling, and uses those skills to guide people towards living a meaningful life. Jared holds a Master’s of the Arts in Global Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary. He and his wife have been married for 13 years and have two ridiculously awesome kids named Asher and Ellie.