Following-on from the article and related comments on Preaching and Small Groups, I think that I should reiterate the implications. I see the effect on small groups as peripheral, as with music. Though the issues can be flash points that are sensitive, I am interested in the the larger (and for me at least) more critical issue of underlying foundational knowledge within the congregational body that support true Christian assembly over time.
The proposition for small groups is merely that that without the underlying foundation being properly prioritized and consistently dealt with, the small groups are caste into a role that they are not equipped (through their set-up, not due to any lack of sincerity or intent) to fulfill. As has been suggested, if they function to increase the depth of and expand upon foundational preaching and doctrinal exploration, that is wonderful. Or alternately, if they are defined to fulfill the acknowledged need for a solid forum for fellowship combined with some biblical or devotional sharing, again great. However, when they are caste in the role of the primary educational forum for foundational matters, and subsequently left to their own devices and development by the leadership with respect to approach, curriculum and direct support, then the overall situation is built more and more upon thin ice.
This brings the discussion around to an all too familiar theme, that of foundation, biblical and basic doctrinal literacy. A comment on the previous post began with the assumption of solid biblical preaching. Let us focus that to preaching based in and for the purpose of Biblical, foundational and doctrinal exposition. The tone and direction of the organization is likely to subsequently proceed from that, and there will be a priority on programs in support of those areas. Our refrain to-date, however, has been that the church in general is moving in precisely the opposite direction, with the focus on organizational growth and programs in support of that. In this case, the tone and direct will follow suit, away from the Biblical and doctrinal literacy. The foundational areas, in fact, will more and more come to be looked upon as arcane subjects suitable only for seminary debate, and not necessary for the general assembly of God’s people. Once paradigm that picks up steam, faith isolated to experiential evidence and with less and less foundational knowledge is not far behind. One may even hear the proposal that the two focus directions described are synonymous. The absurdity of that simply denies expression.
I would propose that this scenario is what we are seeing, and it should give us much pause when looked at with a view to the tribulations which we know will come, and which Scripture has implied will remove much of the experiential support through the tactics of Satan and the world. That this will come about is in not doubt in Revelations.
In conclusion, one would hope that the refocusing of congregational, and particularly leadership, priority on foundational matters, leaving the rest (for example, growth) to the Lord, will move towards a path more centered upon the Sovereignty of our Lord, with the people of God better equipped to weather the future.