Why Are Home Friendship Groups So Successful?

Why Are Home Friendship Groups So Successful?

By Jim Smith

The institution that is the home, is under attack. (1 will leave out all the gory statistics.) Lifestyles that are illicit, abusive, negligent, are too often, lived out in the home. If ever there was a place I believe the Holy Spirit would want to go, it would be these homes. In the Gospels, you find over and over, Jesus inviting himself into people’s homes. Look at what happened when Jesus invited Himself to Zaccheus’s home. Immediately, the man began repenting of his sin and promised to make his wrongs right.

I’m really not convinced that the New Testament church is supposed to have a central church building. (I’m glad we do.) It appears that the Holy Ghost was quite capable of falling on people when they met in their homes with their oikos to pray and worship. In fret it is the home, He desires and needs to heal. The greatest needs in the world, whether social or religious, are needs that can and should first be met in the home. When you study some of the wicked men/ women in history, you will find that the home they grew up in was dysfunctional.

Over and over again, HFG churches see whole families instead of just individuals come into the church. We arc hearing of spouses who have never cone to church, but are now involved in church services because a HFG meeting was held in their home and they stayed to “check it out.”

Relationships are established in the HFG’s. One study tells us that if a person does not meet 7 friends within the first 7 weeks of finding a new church, they will leave. We think it’s our doctrine, charisma, programs, or evangelism efforts that will keep our pews filled and retain our saints, but this is simply seldom the case. In fact, it is all about relationships. Not just the relationship between the Pastor and the saint. (I would even suggest that it is possible for a church to grow exponentially without the pastor/saint relationship being developed.)

Why are so many churches unable to grow beyond their present numerical boundaries? Studies tell us that the average pastor can only effectively minister to 70- 80 people. Is it any wonder that the average church in America is only 80 with 113 of all churches never growing over 50? Can one man honestly meet all the needs? Can two or three’? Doubtful.

Think of all the evangelism efforts your church has done in the last 10 years. Everything from Revivals to clown acts. Right? The problem with most of these efforts is they do little to develop relationships within the Body of Christ for the visitor. It gets them out to service once or twice, but it does not meet the serious needs in that person’s life which includes, first of all, nurturing relationships. At the most, the person got their hand shook by the pastor and a few of the saints. It is doubtful if that person is going to be followed up on throughout the week much less find 8-10 new friends that same week who will work together to minister to that person’s needs.

In the great commission, our Lord told us not to only baptize the nations, but to also make disciples of all men. We got the baptism thing down pat. But we fall very short in discipling the individual. At best, we may teach them a Bible study. However, all too often that is the extent of the discipleship process. When you look at the ministry of Jesus, he had 12 disciples for 3 years before he had even one convert. You find him often just “hanging out” with the boys, as I like to say it. In one situation, you find John, with his head on Jesus breast. 1 picture this as Jesus lying down on the hillside with the guys talking and John using Jesus as a pillow. Jesus wasn’t always having church with these people. He often spent time just cultivating I [is relationship with them. As a result, they were discipled and led to be like Him.

Our present way of thinking tells us that it is the pastor’s role and responsibility to meet the emotional, spiritual, and relational needs of the congregation. For years, the Church has thought this way, and for years the church has been stuck. What if a church could enable and empower all of its people resources to minister to one another’? Maybe revival?!

A woman recently began coming to one of our groups. Her husband seldom came to church. She was faithful but always troubled. After just a couple of short months, the Small Group leader was able to invite the man to conic to one of the HFG meetings. The man visited and has been coming ever since. He is now faithful to all church services and his two teenage sons are now in the church as well. In the last 5 months the man has had tremendous problems, including the death of his father and mother. He gave this testimony to our church a few weeks ago. “If it was not for my friends in my HFG. T would not be in the church today. They were the first ones to call me when my mother and father passed away. I couldn’t make it without them.”

Many churches who have HFG ministries are reporting a 70-85 % retention rate among its converts. Churches that I have studied who do not have a 1IFG ministry have a 20% rate of retention at the 2 year level. Ask yourself, if you were God, would you give revival to a church that is only going to be able to keep 20% of the new babes you give it’? Now, I only have common sense. God is infinite in wisdom. But, with only common sense, I can tell you what I would do.

When people gather in a HFG setting, they worship together, pray together, study God’s Word together, fellowship together, exhort, and encourage one another. And, they do this in the place that is more under attack than any other place in the world their homes.