Monday, May 08, 2006

The Central Role of Small Group in Mission

There is no BIG in Team

I became a Christian in June of 1986. After my conversion, I began attending a conservative evangelical church with my father. This church was great for the formation of my understanding of the bible as the source of our faith and practice, but it took awhile before I found a place to live out the life and the purpose for which God had called me. Though at the church I attended with my father, I learned good sound bible doctrine, it wasn’t until I met a small group of like-minded people and attended church with them that I felt at home. There is a model of teaching doctrine and ideas that works, namely the pulpit, but to learn how to live out our faith and expand the kingdom, this learning takes place in a smaller group of believers, a team if you will.

The church I first attended with my father was about 4,000 members. I remember trying to get involved with the high school group but I am very NOT gifted to work with kids. I attended the “collage and career group” at this church. That “small” group was really about meeting a mate, so I got a girl friend. That process wasn’t too different from my pre-Christian days. During this time, I went out a few times with the evangelism teams with this church but the cold turkey methods seemed very unnatural to me and ineffective. Then, when I was in seminary, I attended a small group on campus with a couple seminarians. Here for the first time I felt that this group was different. The worship was heartfelt and the group seemed to “assemble around the Lord” (Psalm 7:7a). This group visited the elderly and took mission trips to Mexico and to the parks in Southern California. People were very mission focused. The leader was from YWAM and the group was very mobilized. I began to participate in this missional community. I was actually changing. Life had real purpose and we were living a life that was focused on loving others and not a Christianized version of the American dream.

Later I attended Sunday church with this group. I felt like we were part of something very big and revolutionary, but the “us” or the “we” was the small group. We, the small group of friends were involved in something big and purposeful. Many small groups got together and worshipped but what made it so powerful was that each of this small groups was itself involved in mission at the small group level. The identity of the individual was as a team member at a level that allowed everyone to play in the team. You cannot all really play on a team of 4,000. Team sizes max out at about 50. Most teams are closer to 10 or in Jesus’ case about 12. Actual mission happens in teams. Events are led by teams and activities to make an mission activity happen takes a team of about 8-15. To mobilize a people, the people have to be on teams and these teams or small groups, functional or local, are the place where mission takes place and therefore the place where real purpose driven life motivates spiritual growth.

This team playing is key to spiritual growth and the expansion of the kingdom. Therefore, we conclude that true discipleship happen in the small group.

God Bless,
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