The writer of the letter to the Hebrews in Chapter 10 verse 25 says,
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
One of the ways in which we can do this is to belong to a housegroup. So what is a housegroup? Generally speaking a housegroup is a small group of Christians who meet together during the week in someone’s home to study the Bible, pray, encourage one another and to build up relationships in the body of Christ. Although the sizes of groups will vary they often would have between 6 to 12 members. Once a group grows beyond this number then it might be wise to split the group and to form two separate groups.
Bible study is very often a key feature of the group. One of the advantages of a housegroup is that the group can study the Bible together and members can discuss how the passage they are studying is relevant to their everyday life. There is also the opportunity for people to ask questions about anything they do not understand in the passage. Generally speaking when we are listening to the sermon on Sunday it’s not normal practice to interrupt the preacher and ask them questions if we don’t understand the talk! However, in the privacy of an individual’s home there is the chance to ask questions. And often we find that other people may have the same questions as us too. Discussing a passage together in this manner can be very helpful because we get onto real issues that concern people and we can discuss them to a depth that is not possible on a Sunday.
What’s the best Bible study for our group to do you may ask? Well there are literally hundreds of very good Bible study booklets available. Some people like to discuss subjects for example: Women of the Bible; whilst others may like to study a particular book of the Bible. Some churches will do a study based on the current theme of the sermons that are being preached at their Sunday services. If you are not sure what to study in your group a visit your local Christian bookshop to see what they have in stock or chat to your Church leaders.
Another advantage of the housegroup is that you can share prayer needs within the group and pray for one another. Whilst your Church leaders would probably be happy to pray for you on Sunday the opportunity for this may not arise. If you belong to a larger Church then there might be too many prayer needs for everyone to be prayed for on Sunday. However, in a small group you can share your needs and ask for prayer. One of the groups I used to be a member of would have a “sharing and pray” evening from time to time. We would go around the group saying how life was treating us and mention any prayer needs we might have. The other members of the group would then pray about the issues raised and then we would go onto the next person. (In that Church the housegroups were known as “Support Groups” which was an appropriate title). These were important meetings as we could be honest with the group and share disappointments or struggles we were having as well as praising God for the good things in our life.
Sometimes group members may have personal prayer requests which whilst they are happy to share with the group they would not want the rest of the Church to know about. Housegroups is the ideal place to do this.
Many people do find praying in public scary. They worry about getting the words wrong or drying up. However, praying in a housegroup can be a good place to practice and build up our confidence. It’s often a good idea to write down the items you prayer about so that when you meet together again you can see if the prayer has been answered yet. It can be very encouraging for the housegroup to see God answering the prayers they pray.
Another benefit from attending a housegroup is getting to know your fellow Christians better. It can be daunting for anyone who is quiet or shy to get to know people in a big Church. However, a housegroup offers a good opportunity to get to know people in the comfort of someone’s home. In some housegroups I have attended at Churches I have been fortunate to build up some great friendships as a result of cultivating them through the housegroup.
If you do not currently belong to a group I would strongly encourage you to consider seriously joining one. Not only will it benefit you but you too can also be a blessing to the group and the Body of Christ.