What a Small Group Can Do

April 12, 2010 | 20 comments

We were sitting in the arena seats, and the man in the spotlight spoke wisdom into the microphone: Every Christian needs a small group.

My husband’s smile stretched across his face, and he leaned over to whisper words in my ear: Our very church is a small group.

And my heart burned with Jesus-joy when I considered what we — our one small church — could do.

We don’t have to be big to change the world,
to save a life,
to be a friend,
to share the Good News.

We just have to be available.

For when God is our guide — and our glory — the work of one little body of believers can do great big things.

One + one + one + one. This is the multiplication of giving. And here’s how I saw it at work this weekend.


Our men took over the kitchen under the steeple of our country church. We women rolled our eyes when they playfully shooed us from the kitchen.

“This is man’s work,” they’d say while stirring the soup. We women would pretend to be offended.

Randy and Bill and Andrew and Les stood with ladles by steaming roasters of chili and chicken-noodle soup. They set out pink dining trays and soup spoons. The rough, gnarled hands of farmers and factory workers arranged banana-cream pie, chocolate brownies and angel-food cake in perfect rows.

My favorite farmer wore the navy-blue shirt with words screenprinted on the back: Go in Peace. Serve the Lord. And he served bread to the tables.

Our church men do this every spring, advertising their annual soup supper in the local papers, and the church bulletins and on the sign that they roll right into the middle of our town’s main street. (You can do that sort of thing in a town without stoplights or freeway exits.)

In years past, they’ve raised enough money to put mulch under our church swingset, build shelves in a closet, send a few kids to church camp.

But this night was different. Because this time, the crumpled bills dropped in the bowl wouldn’t serve our own. They’d give the freewill offering to another little country church congregation who is feeling the pain we once felt — pain that comes when fire consumes a house of worship.

Holy Scripture had the answer for the money dropped in the bowl: We were to comfort others, as we had once been comforted.

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
— 2 Corinthians 1:4

A fire destroyed our church on Nov. 21, 1996. By Christmas 1997, beauty had risen from the ashes of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. That’s what one small group can do.

They built new walls under the direction of men like Jap and Les and Art — and twin brothers Helmer and Selmer, who are in their 80s (one is widowed, the other has never been married) and they find love of family under that white steeple.

So these men knew what to do when a country church near Viborg, South Dakota, burned down the Friday before Palm Sunday. They’d make the soup and raise the money and offer a word of Truth from one small group to another: With God as your guide, you can rebuild.

One + one + one. That’s what a small group can do.

For we know that our church is more than a building. It’s a people.

(Our men raised nearly $1,100 on Friday night for the church in Viborg.)


Do you have a story of how you’ve been part of a small group who’s experienced the power of one + one + one? Or perhaps, you’ve been on the receiving end. Would you consider sharing your thoughts in the comment box?

by | April 12, 2010 | 20 comments


  1. Warren Baldwin

    This is such a great story! Your "small group" is participating in a Huge Effort to do good. Wonderful example.

    I'd like to invite you to participate (I may have sent you an email already) in a series of Favorite Marriage Book quotes on Family Fountain. If you would like to contribute to this, please email me the title of your favorite book book on marriage with a brief review and comment about how the book has helped you. I'll use it as part of a guest post with a link to your blog. The first is up now.

  2. Tabitha@ichoosebliss

    What a beautiful story!!

  3. elizabeth

    Teary eyes as I read your blog…sometimes in this day of mega churches and mega ministries, those of us ministering in smaller churches can feel insignificant. Your post warmed my heart and reminded me of what matters.

  4. Andrea

    AMEN…we must be available, listening, and willing!
    Hugs, andrea

  5. Carol

    I am from a small group….a small group of siblings…not so small but living with small means in a house small of room. We were blessed with fine Christian examples who came to our little town of Beloit each week and brought church to us. We, without vehicles or means to get to town, we were churched by the best from Inwood! A few years ago, I joined the Methodist church in Lester…still a small group….perhaps 25…perhaps 35…small but mighty in thought, word and deed…mighty in prayer…mighty in song. We prayed, we worked, we worshiped, we believed, we relocated, we relocated some more, we grew, we built, we moved. We brought our strength in small numbers. We grew some more, but have remained very closeknit and believe in the power of thought, word and deed…mighty in prayer…mighty in song. So very blessed! Thanks for your wonderful words! good to see Sandy again in your photos!!!

  6. Missie


  7. Wendy Paine Miller

    Yeah to the men of your church!!! They took the kitchen by storm. 😉

    What an encouraging story. We've been in a church community of thousands and low hundreds. There is nothing like it when the Body comes together to do His work!
    ~ Wendy

  8. elaine @ peace for the journey

    We adopted a Katrina family from New Orleans and brought them here a few years ago. It changed the tapestry of our hearts, both at a corporate level and personal level.

    Our church feels like a small group as well, and even though we'll be leaving it soon, we know that the memories we've made with them will carry us far into the future.


  9. S. Etole

    What an encouraging story …

  10. Karen

    Such a heartwarming outreach of caring souls…whether in a small group of a larger body…or a small group contained in itself…nothing is better than one+one+one showing the love of Christ by making a difference….

  11. A Simple Country Girl

    *Doing 1+1+1:
    One half of an elderly couple at our church was doing very poorly. His health had deteriorated. He could barely sit up. His wife told me how she struggles to pull him upright. Calls were made.

    I finally found one of those automatic raise-you-up chairs (another gal's husband had passed and she wanted it to help someone else). A few more calls. Strong arms and a pick-up fetched the chair. Within two days the new chair was in their living room. In her joy, she told of the gift. And you know how those little country churches are, by the end of that Sunday, more than the purchase price of the chair was handed to her in an envelope…

    *Getting 1+1+1:
    Several ladies were put on my heart at the same time God planted ministry seeds there. They came together in divine ways to "plus one" with me. If you are curious, please read it here.


    (This kind lady, Jennifer, indeed is a "plus one" for many.)


  12. deb

    Jennifer, this was exactly the kind of story I needed to hear today.
    Did you know that, when you left me a comment, and I haven't been here in forever?

    YOU bless.

  13. Wylie @ Shout A Joyful Noise!

    I just love this testimony! God is so good!!! It is incredible what God can do through the heart of one ordinary person who believes and loves Him & it is amazing what He can do within a body of believers that are working together & understand that Jesus is the head.

    I've been incredibly blessed the past 13 weeks while leading a bible study of Experiencing God & the PRECIOUS fellowship & seeing what God has done with our EG small groups. Thanks for sharing this!!!

  14. Jennifer

    This is so awesome! Don't you find that the small groups with passion can do so much more than a large group of people who are disconnected? It's not about the numbers. Funny how everything about the kingdom is upside down as compared to what the world teaches about "how to" get things done.

  15. Red Letter Believers

    This is exactly why i love small groups. Experiences. People. Faith.


  16. Monica Sharman

    Oh yes, on the receiving end…and then God gave me opportunity to respond by putting me on the giving end, too. A common way this happens is when newborns are added to the small group. Those meals coming in for the first few weeks do so much, give me more time for nursing, cuddling, enjoying, changing, napping!

  17. Laura

    What a wonderful tradition, Jennifer…and a loving new application. We had a fire at our church a few years ago. It was devastating. Thankfully, the sanctuary was spared, but needed cleaned of smoke damage. It happened right before Easter, and so was a very strange Lent. But it opened our eyes in many ways, as our church was (and still is somewhat) going through a great deal of conflict at the time. A project of love can bring folks together…especially when it is based in Divine Love.

    Many blessings,

  18. Duane Scott

    That's great! My small church youth grouped just recently hosted a pancake supper benefiting Haiti, and we raised $2600! I was so impressed 🙂

  19. Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife

    I love my small group of ladies called Mom's Morning Out. This is the only cell group I can attend at this point of my parenting season.

    Don't you just love the beauty of the Family of God?

  20. Dan King

    Awesome… My favorite part…
    "When God is our guide… the work of one little body of believers can do great big things."


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