As leaders we pay attention to the three foci of Coffee Break; Bible discovery, the evangelistic purpose, and small group interactions. As we wrap up this season, how might we pay attention to each focus with a desire to finish well?
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Writing the final report for the Sustaining Congregational Excellence Grant which supported the Discipleship Triads for our church gave me the opportunity to reflect on the effectiveness of this project and celebrate how God has worked in and through them in our setting.
Some call habits such as prayer, fasting, scripture memory, simplicity and solitude and silence “weight lifting for the soul.” They can be used to build up the strength of my soul in order to become more like Jesus. Maybe this is what Paul was referring to when he told Timothy to “train yourself to be godly.” (I Tim. 4:7)
"People resist mission because they are under-discipled, but they are also under-discipled because of the absence of any missional challenge. " The problem is, we’ve become used to seeing discipleship as a passive thing as we sit and enjoy one another as we “huddle and cuddle” together.
I understand their fear. We haven’t had enough time together to know one another all that well. Most are new to this whole small group thing and relatively new in faith. Today I’m asking myself how I can gently lead them to feel comfortable praying out loud as a group. Here’s what I’ve thought of so far:
What did I learn on vacation? If I had quit climbing that mountain, I would have missed an awe-inspiring view of God’s wonderful creation. I don’t want to quit on my spiritual formation, either. There are times when it seems really tough and too difficult to keep-on-keeping-on
As I observe community life around me, I see that over time groups can tend to be more “exclusive” rather than “inclusive.” There seems to be a tendency to gradually build up walls around our group when deciding who fits and who doesn’t. Rather than reflecting Jesus’ inclusive love toward those around us, we find reasons to be exclusive.
... today my small group world and work-out world collided when I saw a sign advertising “Small Group Personal Training.” For a very reasonable price we are offered the opportunity to get the benefits of a personal trainer in a small group setting. The sign promoted other benefits of these small groups:
Imagine this. You’ve been in an ongoing spiritual discussion with someone and are asked, “So what is the Gospel?” How would you answer? I had a pretty pat answer in mind until I spent time reflecting on the first four verses of Isaiah 61. This passage points out a bigger understanding of the Gospel than I’m used to thinking
Rather than evaluate the success of a small group by the percentage of a church’s people involved, I’m much more likely to ask questions about how people are demonstrating discipleship and mission in their lives. How are people growing in spiritual disciplines? How many are inviting friends to try out the group? How deep are the relationships within the group? How does the group care for one another and their neighbors?
The call of community isn’t about finding people just like us, at the exclusion of others. Community, in the biblical sense, is clearly about unlike people finding Christ at the center of their inclusive life together. Thus, issues of community reflect powerful dynamics of how God brings very diverse people together for his glory and his witness in the world.