If you go around a Catholic diocese touting the value of small groups, discipleship groups, home groups, small Christian Communities, or whatever other vocabulary happens to be the phrase of the day, you are likely to come across this reaction:
I don’t go to Church on Sunday for other people. I go to worship God and that is it. All this welcoming community and friendship stuff doesn’t matter. That’s not what the Church is for.
It’s an understandable concern. Especially for a Catholic in the Bible Belt. Recently, there has been a rash of evangelical pastors encouraging their church members NOT to attend “Big Church” if they go to a small group. Obviously as Catholics this presents a problem when we believe we have an obligation to be at Mass on Sunday, and that our Liturgical worship at Mass includes the consecration of the Most Blessed Sacrament; something we can’t simply do at home with our neighbors.
However, simply learning about your Faith at home or in a public place with a group of others who also want to learn about the Faith, doesn’t diminish the need for the Eucharist and the Holy Mass. The Psalms are filled with verses which confirm that the more we learn about who God is, how He thinks, and what His ways are, the MORE we desire to be in his presence. So when Bishop Baker, your Parish pastor, or a fellow parishioner invites you to join a small group, it isn’t to replace Mass. It’s to make you desire to be at Mass more, and be more edified by it. It isn’t simply about socializing at Church!