As we come closer to beginning the new Groups season and launching the Fall trimester on September 4th, I wanted to take a couple of weeks and share the vision of the New Life Church Groups Ministry. As we continue to grow and develop this ministry, it is highly important that we all understand what our purpose is in leading small groups. As we all grow in this understanding it will help us to grow and operate in unity by ensuring we are all on the same path and speaking the same language.
Historically, Groups have always been a great place to simply connect and build relationships within the church. It should not come as a surprise for any Christian that building strong biblically based relationships is a key ingredient to walking out our faith within our life’s journey. However, the New Testament makes it clear that these relationships are not simply for our social appeasement. Instead, they are meant to also challenge us in our faith and to help us develop our understanding of, and ability to function within, our relationship with God.
“And let us consider how we may spur on 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 we see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:24-25
We hear it all the time, God uses people to work through people, and this is why small group ministry, in any church, is so important. It is a place of relational intentionality, where we learn to surrender our flesh to the Spirit of God, and allow His sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, to encourage us in the ways of Godly behavior and spiritual maturity.
How is this done then? If gathering in a group is not simply, or only, about social connectivity, then what else are we supposed to be doing in our groups? I am glad you asked, as over the next couple of weeks we will dive in and answer this question beginning with the center of the target, our aiming point.
At New Life, it is our heart that we take seriously Jesus’ command in Matthew 28, to “go and make disciples.” We want to be a discipleship oriented church. Therefore, when we think of what discipleship is, then we know that the most effective place to carry this out is through an appropriately structured small group ministry.
Discipleship is a long form process of spurring one another on in the love and example of Christ Jesus. It is an other’s minded relational interaction that encourages spiritual maturity through the healthy application of scripture, prayer, and ongoing obedient interactions with the Holy Spirit. Discipleship is best done in smaller settings, where deeper relationships can be built, where life can be shared, and where the congregation can use its gifts and talents at the ground level of human and spiritual interaction – a place that where the pulpit alone cannot reach.
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” – Ephesians 4:11-13
Therefore, the center of the target for Groups at New Life Church is discipleship. The goal is to selflessly lead others and influence them in the scriptures through an ongoing relational intentionality. Groups, again, are not social clubs or friendly get-togethers. They certainly can and should encompass these things. However, they must go deeper than this. They must be about touching the very depth of Christlikeness.
So here you go. When you think of your group, or of groups in general, remember that we are all aiming at the same target. Regardless of what your group is centered around from the standpoint of curriculum or activity, the point is to help others take steps toward Christ and to grow in spiritual maturity with the thought that as time goes on, and as your group members grow, you will be able to call up and send out individuals who are, themselves, ready to go and make disciples.
Go Deeper, Grow Stronger