New Year, New Beginnings: Talking Small Groups with Matt Chastain
Whether you call it a small group, life group, or a support group, the goal is the same; a handful of couples or individuals doing life together. The start of the year is a great time to evaluate activities and things that can help with you grow in your relationship with God. One of those things could be getting involved in a small group. Matt Chastain, wrote and directed the film Small Group, which aims to take audiences on a humorous and heart-felt journey through the eyes of a married couple who infiltrate a church small group. Risen talked to Chastain in 2018 about how the idea for the movie developed and the importance of solid friendships.
Chastain reflects on how the idea for the movie, Small Group developed.
“ In 2014, my wife and I had just joined a new small group at our church and I was impressed with the real, genuine nature of the small group experience. When you build trust among your group, you’re more open and vulnerable than you would be during any other worship experience. You crack jokes you wouldn’t dare tell in the sanctuary. You laugh together and cry together and dig into real life. For me, that felt like such a ripe environment for storytelling and an idea, I believe, was gifted to me: ‘Somebody ought make a movie called Small Group!’ I took the idea to a producer friend of mine, Christos Hines, and having been in several small groups in his church over the years, he loved it. He connected me with another producer Dale Wheatley who had just moved here to Athens, GA after spending twenty years in LA in the film business. Dales’ specialty is script development, so I wrote and Dale developed nine drafts over the next eighteen months and finally we had a script that people really responded to. So much so, that it took us only five months to raise our seven-figure budget in private equity and off we went making Small Group!”
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[a] sin. 1 John 1:5-7
Chastain shares on the importance of a solid group of friends that you can lean on, grow with, and support each other through whatever life has to offer.
I think anyone who has ever been involved in a well-functioning group can attest to its importance. The group becomes your closest relationships outside of your immediate family. You just take care of each other through all life’s celebrations, challenges and devastations. Just last week, for instance, my wife and I were having one of those days where everything just falls apart. My buddy Rocky from our small group, who is not an actor but happens to make a pretty funny little cameo in the move, reached out to us, unprompted, with an amazingly generous gesture that reminded us that we don’t have to go through anything alone.”
Join a small group. God designed us to be in community with other believers. Finding the right small group can be challenging, but pray and ask God to help you. You might even have a friend who is looking for a small group and you can check some out together. There are many different types of small groups some are based on life stage, others are based on a topic they want to study and others have gathered because they want to go deeper in their faith together. If you are having trouble finding a group, ask a pastor for some insight on a group that might be a good fit for you.
Lead or host a small group. Consider leading or hosting a small group at your home. Pray and ask God if this is something that you should do for this season in your life. Many churches have small group leader training where you can get equipped on how to lead a small group. Sometimes it can be helpful to lead a group together with another person. It will enable you to divide things up and that way if you have a busy week or season of life, you don’t have to cancel small group.
Invite others to your small group. This can be a difficult thing especially if you have a group that has been together for quite some time and built trust amongst each other. But remember what it felt like to be invited by someone to join a group, there are people at your church and in your community that need to experience that same life transformation that you have experienced. Pray and ask God to show you someone that you can invite to the group. You might even want to have a more casual get together for the small group like a dinner party or game night where you can invite others who might be interested in knowing more about your small group. It can be a non-intimidating way to meet others.
To read our entire interview with Matt Chastain, click here.