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August 10, 2022
Pastor Justin Waples

East White Oak is committed to Sunday Worship, Bible Fellowships, and Small Groups as our Pathways of Discipleship. One of my goals and great joys at East White Oak is to guide, equip, and oversee Small Groups!

As a church, we genuinely want to see each person be part of a “Small Group”—a church-organized ministry with less than 20 people in size.

One person asked, “I am in a Women’s Small Group Bible Study… should I join a Traditional Small Group as well?” It’s a great question! The answer is that Small Groups include more than just our 21 Traditional Small Groups that currently meet in homes throughout our community. Small Groups include all church-led Small Groups such as Men’s or Women’s Small Group Bible studies, Discipleship/Mentoring Small Groups, the Sportsman’s Small Group, or any support group such as the DivorceCare Small Group. These all fit into the “Small Group” Pathway of Discipleship.

People are welcome to join more than one Small Group, but everyone should belong to at least one. The goal is to encourage people to be in a close-knit smaller group setting where they can be Rooted in Scripture, Growing in Christ, and Making Disciples.

There is a depth of “knowing” only achievable in smaller gatherings. Life can get messy, and being authentic and open about our messes is usually reserved for only our closest relationships. Sharing the joys, struggles, and sorrows of life with other believers should be the experience of every Christ-follower.

A Small Group is an important way that Christian fellowship is lived out and an important means of maturing in Christ. See Exodus 18:21- 23; Mark 3:14 (Jesus’ small group); Acts 5:42 (the first church at Jerusalem was organized into small groups); see also 1 Corinthians 16:19; Romans 16:5; Colossians 4:15 for examples throughout the first-century church.

God never intended that our struggles in life be overcome alone.  Neither did God design the disciple-making process as a solo activity. The Small Group is a wonderful ministry to the believer. The community that can happen in a Small Group is unmatched. Small Groups are assembled in a variety of ways. Some groups are made up of people who live in close proximity to one another; others are gender-based or interest-based; some groups have participants who all share the same stage of life.

I pray you will enjoy reading all of the articles about Small Groups in this OakLeaf. You’ll read stories of how groups are formed in our Children, Youth, and Adult ministries, hear stories of how God has impacted the lives of many group participants through study and service, and get to see how Small Groups could be a great blessing in your life as well. Come with us on the journey of Small Groups and see how God might bless you and use you to bless others in community!

Pastor Justin Waples is East White Oak’s Outreach and Discipleship pastor. He is married to Abigail and they are blessed with four children. Justin is passionate about equipping the saints for ministry and helping each member reach out and connect with their neighors and community.