Are microchurches just small groups with a different name?
From an article on Leadership Network
In our present moment, microchurch is part of the conversation for many in light of the changing cultural landscape we find ourselves in, coupled with the ongoing deconstruction and reform back to what many believe is a return to a biblically faithful expression of church.
One could think that a missional community or microchurch (MC) was no different than a small group or a community group, however there really is a big difference between typical small groups and MCs.
First, those committed to MCs believe MCs are the most irreducible form of church, whereas most small groups are considered a program or part of the local church but not a church in themselves. Similar to the church in Pricilla or Aquilla’s house (Rom, 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19) or the church in Nympha’s house (Col. 4:15), MCs see themselves as the church in a particular place with a particular people.
“What about the gathering together in a larger group?” some have asked. “Do MCs gather in a regular gathering?” The answer is generally yes but in a variety of rhythms and forms. The reason for gathering is a second distinction made between small groups and MCs.
For small groups In most churches, the gathering is central and small groups serve as the connection strategy. Since the gathering is too big to really experience the one anothers, deeper community, and the practice of spiritual gifts, small groups provide the place to experience and express these very important realities of church life together. For some churches, the most important reason for small groups is retention. It’s the way to close the “back door” of the church so the church gathering can continue to grow bigger in attendance.
On the other hand, the goal for bringing MCs together for a larger gathering is not to grow a larger gathering but to encourage one another toward ongoing good works in everyday life (Heb. 10:24-25) and to equip for ongoing ministry through an equipping team (apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, teachers) leading to each disciple and MC expressing the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:11-13).
Small groups often attempt to fulfil one or two aspects of Christ. For example, some small groups primarily express the teacher aspect of Christ through doing a Bible study or sermon discussion (teacher). Other small groups express more of the shepherd aspect of Jesus by becoming primarily a care group. Some express the more prophetic aspect of Jesus through works of mercy and service. At times you see more than one of these expressed in a small group. However, MCs aim to not only express the shepherd, teacher and prophet aspects of Christ but also Christ as evangelist and apostle as they look to love and reach the lost and multiply and send new MCs as an extension of the church into new places.
And finally, a clear distinction between small groups and MCs can be seen in the administration of the sacraments. In most churches, baptism and Lord’s Supper are limited to the larger gatherings and administered by centralized leadership. Whereas most MCs administer these sacraments in their homes and neighbourhoods embracing the priesthood of the believers to the fullest expression of being the church together.
Read the full article here.
See also these blogs; Repositioning church as a mission agency and How nearly everyone can start a microchurch.
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From an article on Leadership Network, 16/05/2023