The battle is won or lost at the level of imagination. There’s power in imagination. The Holy Spirit’s power is displayed and released at the level of imagination. What do you imagine when you think of small groups that develop...
You know the feeling. You’re asked to step into a new role either in ministry or everyday life and you feel totally inadequate for the task. That’s how a potential small group leader felt last night when I suggested he lead a group for the first time.
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.
Consider these suggestions before you recruit small group leaders.
... 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.
If we want to develop ways of relating in groups that results in mission, then we as pastors must look at what we are emphasizing. Let me simply list five points.