As small groups are launching off these couple of weeks, I just wanted to share with you all a little bit of how small groups have changed my life. This is my 4th year being a part of AACM and I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of 3 different small groups as a member and as a leader. Although they weren’t perfect in modeling the ministry of Jesus, I learned a lot living life with the guys that were in these small groups. But the question remains, what should small group mean to me?
Small group is the backbone of our ministry, or any ministry for that matter. It was the cornerstone of Jesus’s ministry too! In His time, Jesus reached out to throngs of people yet he chose to live most of His life with the 12 disciples. He could have used the mass to bring the good news all over the world but He stuck with the 12. And even from the 12, there was a smaller and more intimate group – Peter, James, and John. You see, the institution of small groups provides an environment where the people in a ministry as large as ours can feel more like a family. As members begin to see each other as more than just friends, but as brothers and sisters, AACM is transformed from being just a place to go to being a family where we get to Worship Christ together, and live into Community together, and be on Mission together (WCM).
Many will say that they feel a sense of belonging and identity in their small groups. Many will also say that they feel cared for by their leader and other members in their small groups. However, it is quite rare to hear members say that they were truly held accountable for their actions by others in their small groups. Even I, as a leader last year, did not really encourage this idea of accountability amongst the guys in my group. We were consistent in meeting up together to dive into scripture, but we were never really pushed or challenged because accountability was not practiced. For those who are small group leaders, I charge you to conduct your small groups in a manner that promotes accountability. And those who opted into joining a small group, expect to be pushed and challenged this upcoming year.
But I do want to remind you all that a small group is not an individual’s ministry. In fact, the members of a small group are not even necessarily the leader’s responsibility. It is not Seebok’s ministry or Jon’s ministry or even AACM’s ministry. As we are first and foremost children of God, we must remember that this is the Lord’s ministry! After all, we cannot, in our own power, bring people to Jesus; it is only God, the Lord of the harvest, who brings people to Him! The greatest thing that a small group leader may do may not be marked by the wise words he or she says. But, it is that he sets his sight on the Lord and leans on Him for his joy and strength; thus, by his actions, he points people back to the person of Christ through love, grace, and truth. A small group dynamic should not necessarily be a hierarchy of a leader and his or her own members. It is, on the contrary, a body of people who journey together and discover what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus – to hear and respond in obedience to His Word.
As a small group, together we get to encourage other on towards cultivating a genuine love for God. When there is space for authenticity and transparency in realizing our brokenness, God’s love and grace will cover us through and through. And as you grow in your love for God, you will begin to challenge each other to surrender bits and pieces of your life to Christ. You do this not out of an obligation or a duty that you owe to Him, but out of a natural response of love and worship for Him. And as you discover more and more of what it means to respond to Jesus, your heart will overflow with a joy that is unrivaled by any other feeling known to mankind. And thus, leaving you in a place where it is natural for you to desire to embody the person of Christ at all times and in all situations.
So if you feel like you can’t lead someone in your small group because they are more mature than you (I struggle with this too!), I want to encourage you with this. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” -1st Timothy 4:12
Or if you feel like someone should join your small group because you can help him/her, I humbly ask that you question your motives.
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.” -Jeremiah 9:23-24,
Or maybe you feel like you can’t join a small group where the leader is younger than you. Then, I humbly ask that you reconsider.
“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of Him, you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” -1st Corinthians 1:26-31
Will you dream BIG with me for a second? Can you imagine what it would look if your small group was modeled after the ministry of Jesus. What would it look like if your small group not only created an environment for belonging and a space for caring but also a charge for accountability? What would it look like if your small group journeyed together in discovering and becoming true disciples of Jesus Christ? If you’re on the fence about joining a small group, I humbly encourage you to join! What’s holding you back from taking a leap of faith?
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:24