Part 2: Building a Gospel-Centered Small Group

Gary Purdy

Practically, how do you develop the kind of community discussed in Part 1? Small groups can create this kind of environment. A small group consists of six to 10 people who gather weekly in someone’s home to share their lives, interact over God’s Word, express care for one another, and pray for God’s kingdom to expand locally and around the world.

The Purpose of Small Groups

The purpose of a small group is to experience Christ’s presence and power as a growing community that expresses Christ’s compassion toward each other and those outside the group. First and foremost, communities need to experience the person of Jesus Christ together. Experiencing Jesus happens through continuous practice of and belief in the gospel — both seeing our sin problem and marveling at how Jesus paid for our sins.

The small group structure does not guarantee that group members will experience Christ. However, when experiencing the wonder of Christ is the focus, small groups create an environment where this can take place both individually and in relationship with others. 

When group members experience Christ in community with others, it becomes natural for them to express His love to one another. And when hearts adore Christ, people are compelled to express His love to those who have not yet experienced it.

5 Distinctives of Gospel-Centered Small Groups

  1. They are open to people from a variety of spiritual backgrounds.
    Because the searching non-Christian and the maturing Christian both have the same ultimate need — the gospel of Jesus Christ — groups focused on Christ can be nurturing for people at a variety of spiritual stages.
  2. They encourage biblical discovery.
    The Word of God is the most effective instrument to reveal Christ to us. The small group provides an environment for discovering God’s truth together through open discussion.
  3. They thrive on honesty and vulnerability.
    Surface-level answers or self-righteous attitudes kill opportunities to see our own helplessness and Christ’s worthiness. However, honesty about our need for and hope in Jesus is compelling and leads to compassion and strong relationships.
  4. They involve investing in one another and in relationships outside the group.
    Leaders invest in their group members. Group members invest in relationships outside the group in the hope of drawing more people into relationship with God.
  5. They are committed to multiplying.
    The group is not an end in itself. It is a base from which group members extend God’s kingdom within their spheres of influence. When group members invite more people to groups with momentum, those groups multiply.

The Results

We at Cru have seen God use gospel-centered small groups in some significant ways. Because non-Christians can come and develop relationships, when they do come to Christ, they stay connected. New Christians often point to small groups as a vital part of their process in coming to faith.

Additionally, people learn to apply the gospel of Christ deeply in their hearts, changing their lives more than focusing on behavior alone ever could. As people apply the gospel to their hearts, they experience more heart-level connection with one another. 

Ultimately, as a result of these groups, people feel enriched and inwardly compelled to share the gospel of Jesus because Jesus has become so real to them.

Next Steps: 


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