If you follow this blog, you know that I often compare a small group discipleship ministry to a garden. A small group creates an environment for spiritual growth. In the small group, we can we spur one another on in growing together in knowing and following God. Hebrews 1:24-25 is a great overview of the purpose of a discipleship small group:
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrew 1-:24–25).
The problem that small group leaders discover is that there is not a one-size-fits-all formula for spurring. Every small group environment is different, the people are different and the needs are different. We do know that people grow when they are in God’s Word, in prayer and committed to each other over time. But how those ideas are applied vary greatly from group to group.
This summer I tried to grow zucchini in my garden. My neighbors grow lots of zucchini so I thought I would have a great harvest. It didn’t work. Not enough sun? Was the soil too wet? I’m novice gardener — it could have been many factors. Growing zucchini was an experiment that failed. Other experiments in my garden thrived. I had a huge harvest of green beans, sweet peas, and jalapeño peppers.
So how do you spur one another on? Experiment! Look for group practices that grow people more in love with God and each other.
Here are a couple of small group experiments that I am currently trying out and learning from:
Experiment 1: I was praying at the end of our study for our group requests. I wanted to help our group participate in prayer together. I suggested that rather than list our requests then pray that we pray phrases and ideas from the passage we were studying. It was powerful. We prayed with our eyes open. We picked phrases and read them as prayers. Sometimes we elaborated on them. It was conversational. Everyone was involved. We learned about prayer together. For now, that is our group prayer style.
Experiment 2: Our couples group desires to grow deeper but the environment of men and women and kids running in and out seems to hinder our honest accountability. We are experimenting by finding creative ways to develop triads and quads of men and women where we can have more personal conversations beyond our large group. We are going to try it out for few weeks and see what happens.
What experiments are working for you? Please share your ideas so we can learn together.