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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.

Being a contributor not just an attender

If you attend a church for long enough you will no doubt be encouraged to join a small group. For churchgoers, a small group is usually active rather than passive. At church you can hide in the background and not participate, whereas I think a small group is all about participation. Even though I recognise this, I sometimes struggle myself to be brave and share a view point or open up about what is happening in my life.

I am trying not to hide behind my phone or clock watch and I am trying to contribute more than a couple nebulous words every meeting. I have been an “attender” and with each small group meeting I am trying to become more of a “contributor”. I think the phrase “you only get out what you put in” is apt when it comes to small groups.

If you’re like me and not the most confident person I want to encourage you to be brave in your small group and become a contributor, and here are some reasons why:

  • Like you and I there are many other people out there who struggle with confidence, so you are not alone. If you are brave and get involved you will encourage others to do so as well.
  • Many people go to small groups because they want to learn, they want to hear your views and reactions as it helps them learn. Your opinion might open a whole new way of looking at something for them.
  • Many people in small groups like to share their knowledge by asking questions you give other people the chance to get actively involved and share their own thoughts.
  • As a small group leader there is nothing worse than long silences when you are leading. When you share ideas or ask questions you can really enthuse and empower the leader.
  • People in your small group will want to pray for you and support you. The braver you are with sharing things that are happening in your life the more opportunities there are for people to come alongside you and support you – not only in the group but outside of it as well.

So if you are lacking in confidence take a deep breath and think of one thing you can do to make your small group experience better and do it. It could be switching off your phone or asking the group to pray for you. I’m not saying things will change like a flick of a switch, but life and small groups are journeys and sometimes the smallest steps can be the most important ones to make.

By Adam
Adam is a keen camper and loves going on adventures with his family. Whilst not in a field somewhere he enjoys working in the marketing team at CWR and worshipping at Gorse Hill Baptist Church.

Have fun feeding your small group

I have been the very happy and willing recipient of lots of hospitality in my hugely blessed life. By hospitality I suppose I just mean being handed nice food for free! These moments of blessing usually happen at church, small group, and in the homes of friends and family. It even bizarrely happens to me at work (more of that to follow!).

On a good day, being ‘shown hospitality’ just offers an extra moment of indulgence, of being cared for and a reminder that I am a loved human being.

On a bad day, receiving hospitality can be a nutritional and emotional life ring.

After a couple of decades of being repeatedly fed and blessed by other people, the penny dropped that if getting handed free food was so wonderful to experience, it would be something I could sometimes do to cheer up others.

Preparation for showing hospitality with food does take a little bit of time, effort and money, but trust me: not much and you get it all back tenfold in blessing from God. Once your heart is ready to bless others things have a funny way of happening easily. Almost as if God’s favour is on you…

At work (CWR / Waverley Abbey College), there’s a guy called Bob. He’s quite busy because he’s the College Director, but he’s also got a great side line: he’s a great baker of cakes and blesser of people. So he often randomly turns up in the office with an enormous fresh-from-the-oven lemon drizzle or coffee or jam sponge cake to feed the team. We are always grateful for the treat, and some hectic days when I’ve raced out of the house with neither breakfast in my tummy nor a packed lunch in my bag, it’s secretly my sustenance for the day.

Why not try blessing your small group with a home-made food treat. Wherever you meet, turn up some time with a tin of home-made whatevers, and enjoy the simple thrill of blessing others. Eating together breaks the ice, it helps people relax and feel welcome. To help get you started, Bob has kindly shared his EASY cake recipe with us! Click below to download a PDF containing the recipe and cooking instructions:

Bobs-EASY-Lemon-Drizzle-Cake.pdf (59 downloads)

Or you can find online anything you fancy making: Scones / cookies

And if that wasn’t enough… there is a hidden benefit to refreshing others, instructions can be found in Proverbs 11 v 25, and my own experience is that you can never out-give God. In honour of God if you give just a glass of water to someone you can expect a tidal wave of blessed refreshment in return.

This is my experience hospitality… let us know how you get on!

By Niki
A humble knitter of socks with an astonishing capacity for tea drinking, Niki grew up in Northern Ireland but finally found her true climate was in the South of England. She is a programme administrator on the postgraduate Counselling programmes at Waverley Abbey College.