Homegroups - resourcing the Church for the future
“Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home” Acts 2v46
Homegroups are an increasingly vital part of a vibrant and dynamic church community. Whilst gathering the whole church together on a Sunday continues to be essential, more and more we are seeing the importance of small groups.
These usually have 10-15 members who meet once a week in someone’s home, often over a meal, to study God’s Word and think about how to apply it in day-to-day life.
The results of a 2018 ComRes survey revealed that local churches are more likely to grow, engage with the local community and broaden the perspectives of their members when they have active home groups.
67% of people surveyed said that their faith is strengthen by being part of the homegroup.
During this research, we heard from Juliet, who has recently married and is living in London. She said that:
“my homegroup inspires me to pray more, to be more bold in my faith and to open up to others about the joys and struggles of life. It also helps me think through faith questions and aspects of culture, as it feels like a safe space to think out loud”
And Juliet is certainly not alone here. Younger Christians are most likely to be part of a small group, and benefit from the sense of family that these create. Homegroups are an important way of nurturing friendships within a church, and according to authors of Homegroups: The Authentic Guide, “the more friendships people have within a church, the less likely they are to leave.”
Homegroups are a key part of encouraging young people to stay within the church and they help the whole church to grow in their faith.
So, what’s the problem?
Homegroups have a huge amount of unrealised potential. We spoke to Michael, from Sussex, who said:
“I’ve been in a homegroup for thirty years, but I wish I could leave – the studies picked for us by our church are uninspiring when they should be the reverse!”
Some homegroups are fantastic and provide a wonderful opportunity to connect with other Christians on a more personal level. But, this is not the case across the board for a number of reasons:
- There is little good-quality material available for homegroup study; much of the content on the Internet is unreliable, and formal courses can be very expensive
- Homegroup leaders often have full-time jobs and so don’t have time to prepare materials
- Homegroups are often run by lay people with little training; church leaders are concerned that there are not enough people in the church with the time and expertise to lead homegroups
We aim to create an online hub, so that every Homegroup is properly resourced to inspire and encourage
Homegroups.org.uk will by the first centralised online hub for homegroups materials. We will make 2000 homegroup sessions available completely free!
And there will be something for everyone. SPCK is the oldest Anglican mission in the UK, but we aim to provide resources for Christians across all denominations. We will work with other organisations and all denominations to ensure that there are resources for every homegroup. Equally, we will provide the material in a range of formats, including multimedia.
The resources on the website will be complete. They will be easy-to-follow, reliable and work straight off the page. This is to address the challenge of lack of time that homegroup leaders often struggle with.
The Bible studies and reflections will be written by theological experts, of which SPCK has quite a few amongst our authors! High quality material will empower non-experts to lead homegroups with the confidence that their teaching is Biblical.
Finally, the website will provide detailed information on how to start and run a successful homegroup.
Overall, Homegroups.org.uk will make it easier to run a Homegroup, allowing groups to welcome new members and support the growth and mission of the church.
How can you help?
Homegroups.org.uk is in the very first stages of development (but don’t worry, you’ll be the first to know when it’s ready!) We are seeking funding from a number of grant-making trusts and have recently received very generous contributions from the Jerusalem Trust and the Allchurches Trust.
This is a project which parachurch organisations know will transform the spiritual guidance and personal support that Homegroups can provide. But just to get this project off the ground, we need to raise another £16,000.
This may seem a huge amount, but the truth is, if every visitor to this page gave just £5 we would meet this balance in less than a month. Could you play your part?