Summary: Is it REALLY necessary? Why should I? The best answer? Jesus modeled it for us!
The military has an organizational chain of command. For instance, an Army has more than 50,000 soldiers that is made up of 2 or more corps.
A corp has 20-45,000 soldiers that is made up of 2-5 divisions. A division is 10-15,000 soldiers that is made up of 3 brigades.
A brigade has 3-5,000 soldiers that is made up of 2-5 battalions. A battalion has 300-1,000 soldiers that is made up of 4-6 companies.
A company has 62-190 soldiers that is made up of 3-5 platoons. A platoon has 16-44 soldiers that is made up of 2-4 squads. A squad is made up of 9-10 soldiers.
How does this relate to us?
We are part of something larger. GVBC is only one company working cooperatively within a battalion of companies, that is working cooperatively in a brigade of battalions, that is working cooperatively with a division of brigades, that is working cooperatively with a corp of divisions, that makes up an army.
Let's focus on our level for just a moment. If we follow the military example, GVBC would represent a large company that could be further categorized by a number of platoons made up of 24 squads.
In your personal opinion, where would the most effective personal relationships be? In the company of 240? The platoon of 40? Or the squad of 10?
There is no doubt meaningful relationships could be realized throughout the company level, but the most effective relationships would most likely occur at the smallest level.
Since we are followers of Jesus, let's look at His example of effective leadership.
1. From Many to Twelve. Mark 3:13-15
As a master teacher, Jesus taught thousands. As Scripture describes, He was not there as only a provider of information, but had compassion on them. He cared for, and loved, the people who came to Him.
Jesus went up on a mountain and called those He desired. In Luke 6, Scripture said He prayed all night, and then chose the 12.
It was not something He took lightly; it was a God ordained, personal invitation to join Him in ministry.
The other side of that invitation is the willingness of the twelve to say yes. There would be a sacrifice of time and commitment for both parties, but that is required for effective discipleship.
Scripture describes the intent of this small group relationship. They were to be with Jesus. This does not represent just an hour per week, but doing life together throughout the week.
They ministered together, traveled together, and ate together.
Having poured into their lives, the 12 would be taught and equipped to preach the message of Jesus. It was not for the sake of meeting, though they did. It wasn't for the sake of fellowship, though they had it. It wasn't for the sake of teaching, though they experienced it.
Jesus wanted them to be equipped to replicate what He did. In doing so effectively, Jesus would give them His power and authority to accomplish His mission.
The words of 1 Corinthians 11:1 and 2 Timothy 2:1-2 given to you and me echo what Jesus modeled. “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” "You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."
We are to live our lives with other believers, so we can model what it means to live under the lordship of Christ. We are to invest in others in such a way, that they will be able to invest in others in the same way.
This is a picture of discipleship that occurs in a small group as modeled by Jesus.
2. From Twelve to Three.
Jesus did invest in the 12, but from that group He chose Peter, James and John. In Mark 5:35-41, Jesus displayed His authority and power over death to only these 3. In Mark 14:32-34, Jesus pulled the 3 away from the rest of the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane.
In Mark 9:2-4, Jesus revealed part of His glory in the presence of these three. Why? There is greater intimacy in smaller groups.
On that mountain, Christ wanted His close 3 to have a greater understanding of who He was. The disciples, who had only known Him in His human body, would now have a greater realization of the deity of Christ.
This obviously impacted them - John wrote in his gospel, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14).
Peter also wrote of it, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.” (2 Peter 1:16-18).