Most churches these days have some sort of home group. There are all sorts of ways these can be pointed. In our church, we use our home groups to accomplish at least three things:
It has been our practise to eat together at the start of our meetings. Not only does this give us the opportunity to serve one another with food (usually one person/couple make the food for the whole group on a rota basis) but gives us a chance to chat together. We are able to find out what is going on with one another, to share in each others lives and to hear a bit about the things we are each dealing with. Sometimes, it is just a good opportunity to have a bit of a laugh and enjoy one another’s company over a bit of food.
We follow up our time eating together by splitting into single sex groups and praying for one another. Generally, we go round and ask for: (1) a point of praise; (2) a point for prayer. We have found this to be a good practice to encourage people to have a heart of thankfulness towards the Lord – there should always be something to thank him for – as well as recognising that he wants to work for our good and care for our needs. So, we look to give thanks and bring our requests to God. We then pray for one another. This encourages us to be praying meaningfully together and also continues to build on our fellowship, hearing about what is going on with each other and bringing it before the Lord in prayer.
After we have prayed together, we all come back as a whole group and open the Word together. It has become our practice to re-read the passage that was preached on Sunday and to think further about the points of application. We do this because nobody assumes everyone heard everything from the sermon and no single message is going to cover every useful application. So we spend time thinking about what the Word had to say specifically to us and how we can spur one another to be those doers of the Word that Jesus calls us to be.
The groups also provide a useful opportunity for clarification. Sometimes things have been misunderstood in the sermon. Midweek groups offer an opportunity for questions to be asked and answers to be given. Sometimes misunderstandings don’t become apparent until we begin pressing into some of the applications and hear what people have specifically taken away. They think they understood what you were saying; it turns out either you weren’t clear or they have misheard! But midweek groups give opportunity to address the things people took from your sermon – both the good and the bad – and to dig further into what our people think the Word had to say to them in particular.