church

Picking your fight

Our church wouldn’t feel like home for so many if it wasn’t for our collection of diverse and engaging small groups. It’s within these small groups that people find family. In our fast-growing church community, they are a wonderful way for members of our congregation to make friends that last a lifetime, pray together, disciple each other and walk with each other through the joy, tough stuff and curveballs life can throw at us all.

But if in fast-growing and larger church communities small groups are where ‘church’ really happens – how do we ensure and facilitate our groups becoming and staying outward looking too?

The call in Isaiah 58 and 61 to serve the poor, bind up the broken hearted and serve those around us so that they might know the love of God is a call for us in our small groups too – and what a great place to start!

In our church, we are planning to encourage small group leaders to rally their groups together and ‘Pick a Fight’. We are going to suggest that each small group adopts a cause and devotes some of their time to make a difference in that area, whether that’s locally, or nationally!

For example, a small group that is mostly young families might choose to ‘Pick a Fight’ for their local primary school. They might decide to regularly pray for those that work and attend the school, attend PTA events and maybe become governors – anything they believe will bring a bit more of the kingdom of God to that part of the world!

Different small groups made up of those from different demographics will come up will come up with brilliant and diverse ideas. Some might want to focus on reaching out to those involved in local nightlife, supporting local refugees or even devoting their time to a local home for older adults – the possibilities are endless.

When we focus on loving our neighbour, the most beautiful miracles happen, and small groups seem like the perfect place for these miracles to begin. Having the support of loving friends and the prayers of a small group will encourage vision and help us take those first steps into action into loving our communities better.

So let’s go out there, and encourage our small groups to change the world!

By Jazz Crowne
Jazz Crowne co-ordinates the community outreach work for Emmaus Road church Guildford and oversees the churches midweek small groups. She loves a good coffee, a good joke and a good book, regardless of what it’s about.

Expanding Your Small Groups

One of the key issues for growing churches is: how do I find enough leaders for my small group ministry?

This is especially tough if the church has set the bar for being a small group leader high: ‘We are looking for people who have read through the Bible at least once, spend an hour a day in prayer and regularly lead people to Christ.’ (Yes I am exaggerating, but only slightly)

I want to say, that while it’s true that not everyone can lead a small group, and not everyone would want to, we don’t need to be afraid of the leadership word.

There’s a leader in all of us.

My thinking behind this statement comes from the biblical idea that leading is part of everyone’s DNA. In Genesis we read that every human is made in the image of God (Gen.) 1:27. And whilst scholars have no consensus on what exactly may be included within that, the context gives us a clue. In verse 28 God commands Adam and Eve to take care of the planet: ‘God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground. (NIV)”

John Mark Comer wrote in his book, Garden City:

‘The word rule is radah in Hebrew. It can be translated “reign” or “have dominion.” It is king language. One Hebrew scholar translated it as “to actively partner with God in taking the world somewhere.”

What if God has placed a desire within all of us to lead?

The truth is that Jesus’ teaching was largely addressed to disciples, who became the leaders of the church. If we think Jesus’ teaching applies to us, and who wouldn’t, and if we are serious about following Jesus we have (perhaps unwittingly) signed up to learn how to be leaders!

Many of us are not leaders in the sense of calling people to ‘follow us’ somewhere. But if leadership is influence and we are all called to be a godly influence wherever we are – which for many of us in churches – could being a godly influence mean being a leader in a small group setting?

Some people may not be ready to lead: they have stuff to sort out, an ‘old life’ to disentangle from, and new godly habits to prioritise. But everyone has the prospect of being a faithful and godly influence. And those who have sensed God helping them reach a degree of maturity might well find a small group leadership role a thrilling place to serve God.

If your church is looking for new small group leaders, make sure you have the right criteria. Maybe your problem is not a lack of potential leaders, but with the criteria you are looking for?

For more on a biblical view of leading check out my latest book, The Leadership Road Less Travelled: leading as God intended you to (CWR).

Andy Peck, teaching team, CWR