In a world of negativity fatigue, let me take a few minutes to talk about something positive, and that is our Small Groups ministry. We often say that small groups are “where church happens” at Shelby Crossings, and we heard some great testimonies during our recent ReGroup time about the impact the Lord has made in your lives through our groups. More than that, we believe that small groups that meet “house to house” are the biblical model for discipleship and ministry to the body of Christ.
Accordingly, we constantly need to rethink “church” as we have known it, moving from the concept of an audience in a large room looking up at a stage, to a “living-room religion” (as Elton Trueblood once called it) where people interact, teach, and minister to “one another” as the New Testament prescribes. As Jim Beckner mentioned in ReGroup on Wednesday night, small groups are a microcosm of church life. They are not just a ministry of the church, they are the church itself, wherever we are gathered.
After a three-week hiatus for us to pull back and “regroup,” our Small Groups will be relaunching this week, including a couple of new groups that we will be starting. If you were a part of a group in the past, your group may be making some changes in schedule or location, it may be morphing into another group, or possibly branching out to start a new group. If you have not been a part of a group, there’s never been a better time to come get plugged in.
I hope those who were at ReGroup this week will indulge me, because I want to reiterate the list of five requests and challenges I shared on Wednesday night as we kick off our groups again this week. I hope you will prayerfully consider each of these:
1) Embrace change. Some things may be different, and though that may make you a little uncomfortable, it’s not a bad thing. Sometimes we need to be pushed out of our comfort zones, especially if we want to grow. Ask the Lord what changes He wants to bring to your life that will move you to a new place of growth with Him.
2) Commit yourself to a group. And when I say commit, I don’t mean commit, if nothing else comes up. This is especially relevant when it comes to your family life, where there are so many distractions and activities competing for your time. Your children need to see your priorities lived out, without compromise. (For that matter, they already do; just make sure you are living the priorities your profess.) Commitment is vital to your spiritual growth.
3) Seek to serve, not be served. We live in a consumer society that always expects others to meet our needs. And most of the time, we come away disappointed. Go into your new group looking for needs to meet and people to encourage–and watch God meet your needs through that process. “Ask not what your group can do for you, but what you can do for your group.”
4) Invite your friends. One of the main purposes of our groups is outreach, and yet this is a constant struggle for most of our groups. When we don’t reach out and invite friends, our groups get inwardly focused and lose their sense of mission. Look around your neighborhood, the ball park or dance class, and extend an invitation to your unchurched friends to come try out your group. For that matter, look around you in worship on Sunday morning at Shelby Crossings and invite those folks to your group. You may just be surprised at who is waiting on an invitation.
5) Pray. Make no mistake, this is a spiritual endeavor, not just a feel-good, self-help gathering of friends. Ask the Lord to work, in your group and in your life. Ask Him to send the right people, and send you to the right people to invite. Ask Him to use your group to impact your community for the gospel. And then watch Him answer your prayers.
I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for us as we gather together as his body around our community in small groups this coming week. And I sure hope you’ll be a part of it.