Seven Reasons Why Preaching Is NOT Enough - John Piper
Much like Grace, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN (where John Piper is lead pastor) has been transitioning in structure for small group ministry. In his exposition on John 5, Piper explained the importance of small group for healthy body life and why preaching is NOT enough. From Piper’s manuscript (emphasis mine):
Last Sunday when I met with the small group leaders of the Downtown Campus, I tried to show them how essential their role is at this church by giving them seven reasons my preaching is not enough—seven reasons why perseverance in faith and growth in faith call for Christians to meet regularly in a face-to-face way to “serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10). God intends to do things in you which he will only do through the ministry of other believers.
7 Reasons We Need Small Groups
He has given pastors to the church “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12). I believe in what I do. And I believe that it is not enough. Here are the seven reasons I gave the small group leaders.
1. The impulse [to] avoid painful growth by disappearing safely into the crowd in corporate worship is very strong.
2. The tendency toward passivity in listening to a sermon is part of our human weakness.
3. Listeners in a big group can more easily evade redemptive crises. If tears well up in your eyes in a small group, wise friends will gently find out why. But in a large gathering, you can just walk away from it.
4. Listeners in a large group tend to neglect efforts of personal application. The sermon may touch a nerve of conviction, but without someone to press in, it can easily be avoided.
5. Opportunity for questions leading to growth is missing. Sermons are not dialogue. Nor should they be. But asking questions is a key to understanding and growth. Small groups are great occasions for this.
6. Accountability for follow-through on good resolves is missing. But if someone knows what you intended to do, the resolve is stronger.
7. Prayer support for a specific need or conviction or resolve goes wanting. O how many blessings we do not have because we are not surrounded by a band of friends who pray for us.
So please know that when this small-group ministry of our church is lifted up, I don’t think it’s an optional add-on to basic Christian living. I think it is normal, healthy, needed, New Testament Christianity. I pray that you will be part of one of these small groups or that you will get the training and start one. This is the main strategy through which our pastors and elders shepherd the flock at Bethlehem: Elders > small group leaders > members to one another.
These seven points provided Piper are important to consider, especially because of the fact that we are all members of one another and participants in the change God wants to bring in conforming us more into the image of Christ.