In Praise of Home Groups

What the heck is a ‘Home Group’?

Turn the clock back a good few years and my only idea was it was it definitely wasn’t something for me. Surely a ‘Home Group’ (aka, Bible Study, small group, study group, cell church – even Lent Group) was full of very holy, serious people, who actually knew where things were in the Bible and had been going to Church for ever, prayed regularly and knew all the answers and who would tell me I just had to ‘Have Faith’. Without doubt they would find out I was a fraud and only went to church because it was a good place to take my kids on wet Sunday mornings. There was no way I was going join any ‘small group’.

So what changed? I now enthuse about small groups any chance I have. I even lead one.

First, let me dismiss all of that absolute rubbish about the perception of what a ‘Home Group’ consists of. I have never been to one which was full of ‘serious’ people. Honestly, we spend a lot of time laughing. Not everyone prays regularly, not everyone believes everything, or even the same things. There are people in groups who are very new to church and some who have been going to church all of their lives but still have questions. Even in the early days no-one accused me of being a fraud and never did they dismiss my questions.

I’ve now been to lots of groups over the years. Weirdly they are all different – probably because they have consisted of different people and had different themes. I’ve loved some, felt challenged by others, but every time I have met and become closer to the people in that group. The only similarity is that they all consisted of people who are trying to get closer to God.

When I started to go to church I didn’t really get to know people. I didn’t know everyone’s name, I didn’t know where people lived or much about their lives. It was a long time until I felt that I wasn’t a visitor. I think it was belonging to groups that changed that.

I had been on the PCC for a while before I ever ventured into a ‘Home Group’. I was a busy mum with a full-time job and time was very precious. Then the PCC had a visiting speaker and an initiative called ‘Forward with God’ was launched. PCC members were ‘encouraged’ to go to one of the groups which were set up to follow the course.

I found I enjoyed it and got to know the people involved and was sad when the course ended. I think that there were about six groups and at the end of the course only one continued – not the one to which I had been going. I found I really missed it so I took a deep breath and joined the one that was continuing – and I can honestly say it was one of the best things I ever did.

To me being in a small group is church. Groups are inclusive, welcoming and eager to grow. Somehow, belonging makes you want to do more for God and become closer to the person you are intended to be. The people in the group form relationships because we share our thoughts and learn together. Over the years, my faith has grown and my relationship with God has deepened.

Through home groups, I have made real friends – people I can rely on, people I trust absolutely, people who help out, people I can cry with and have lots of laughs with; they are my ‘go to people’ and yet they are always so welcoming to anyone new.

At the moment, groups are continuing on Zoom. I really look forward to when we can gather again in person. We’ll advertise when that is happening. Why not give it a try?

Maxine Everitt

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