As followers of Christ, we are called to “make disciples.” This happens best through the method of small groups. In small groups, people experience true fellowship. They are able to share their joys and pain, they are challenged and held accountable to continued spiritual growth, and friendships are established for a lifetime. More simply put, lives are transformed for Christ and leaders developed for service in the Kingdom. The Holy Spirit does something in the lives of people in small groups that is profound, powerful and important, as people enter into an intimate relationship with God and each other.
Key Seven: Serve the Group and Others Beyond
When we serve one another in Jesus’s name, the world sees clearly that what we have is real. When we give sacrificially of our time and money, we grow personally and mature spiritually.
But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5 NET)
1. Remember, serving is an important act in obeying God.
Our Lord gave away everything, including His life. One Christian said, “I can’t take it with me, so I’ll send it ahead by giving it away.” That is true of our time and our finances. When you invest in people and the Word of God, you are investing in the only two things that pay eternal dividends. Serving validates the life-transforming character of the Gospel.
Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions use their authority over them. But it is not this way among you. Instead whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45 NET).
Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. (Luke 9:23 NET)
2. We must legitimize “lay” ministry.
Churches that fail to legitimize lay ministry inevitably experience a steady stream of people falling through the cracks. Acts of service lead to healthy, growing churches. Because of the intimacy found in small groups, you often discover unmet needs because people were too embarrassed to share them in larger audience settings.
So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away—look, what is new has come! And all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s trespasses against them, and he has given us the message of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His plea through us. We plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God!” (2 Corinthians 5:17-20 NET)
3. Listen carefully for needs expressed in group that God can use you to meet.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited. (Romans 12:15,16 NET)
If one member suffers, everyone suffers with it. If a member is honored, all rejoice with it. (1 Corinthians 12:26 NET).
4. Your group should develop a contagious climate of giving and ministering to people, even outside the group. Acts of Random Kindness will touch lives and move hearts. People will come to know Christ.
Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples—if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 NET)
Key Eight: Win the World As Jesus Would
You and I are the hands, ears, and feet of Jesus to our generation, touching people the way Jesus would if He were here in person. Doing “the work of an evangelist” is often accomplished more often in small groups than in church meetings.
You, however, be self-controlled in all things, endure hardship, do an evangelist’s work, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:5 NET)
1. Notice what God is already doing and get in on it.
If you want to receive God’s blessing, then you should align yourself with something He is doing. Often in groups, there are opportunities that arise to minister to people. When you see something that God is obviously doing, join Him in His work.
2. Be willing to respond to opportunities to tell your story and Jesus’ story.
You saw what I was. You see what I am. Jesus made the difference. Are you interested?
3. Learn how to use Scripture to support the truths of your story.
For an example outline, pick up a “Four Spiritual Laws” booklet, FAITH Evangelism, or some equivalent methodology:
4. Exercise faith for the people God will bring your way.
Ask God to show you two unbelieving persons who are struggling. Ask yourself, “If Jesus were here, what would He do?” . . . then simply do what He would do in the power of the Holy Spirit. As leaders in the group model this kind of outreach, members of the group will soon begin to live out the same principles. Small groups, a door of evangelism, just might well be the most important phenomenon of our times. Often people have been loved really well by the group leading them to give their lives to Christ.
Key Nine: Seek God’s Renewal As You Meet With Him In Secret
If you take care of the secret stuff when you are with God, then He will empower you for service. Your secret walk with God shows up in the blessings God brings into your life.
1. Make time for solitude with God.
This takes us back to where we began: You can’t pass on to someone that which you do not possess. Everyone needs some times of solitude. Even Jesus regularly got away to be alone and pray.
Then Jesus got up early in the morning when it was still very dark, departed, and went out to a deserted place, and there he spent time in prayer. (Mark 1:35 NET)
God wants one-on-one time with you (1). We all need to take the time to ask, seek, and knock.
“So I tell you: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:9,10 NET)
Discover Prayer Series:
- We Must Ask
- Seek Only Our Heavenly Father’s Glory
- Pray the Promise Not Just the Problem
- Pray in Faith
- Live a Lifestyle of Unconditionally Loving Others
- Have an Attitude of Gratitude
- Be Persistent
- Power Dressing for Prayer
2. Seek God through community in your small group.
Hot coals in a fireplace glow longer and brighter together than separately. Many people call themselves Christians, but they don’t have vital faith, an ongoing maturity in Christ, and a transforming lifestyle. A healthy small group will prepare you for those times when you seek God in private.
Although an assailant may overpower one person, two can withstand him. Moreover, a three-stranded cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NET)
As iron sharpens iron, so a person sharpens his friend. (Proverbs 27:17 NET)
3. Maintain a lifestyle characterized by simplicity.
People who are consumed with “stuff” can never be whole. Some people don’t own things, things own them. People really believe what they do, everything else is just religious talk.
“Do not accumulate for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But accumulate for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21 NET).
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm and eat well,” but you do not give them what the body needs, what good is it? (James 2:15,16 NET)
Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:27 NET).
Small Groups Series:
- Leading Men’s Small Groups – Introduction
- Leading Men’s Small Groups – Success Keys 1-3
- Leading Men’s Small Groups – Success Keys 4-6
- Leading Men’s Small Groups – Success Keys 7-9
- Leading Men’s Small Groups – How To Support Men Going Through Difficult Times
(1) Left-click on the underlined phrase to open another article in a different tab with more explanation.
(2) This article contains a partial synopsis of Carl George’s book, Nine Keys To Effective Small Group Leadership. It is a must-read for anyone considering leading small groups. It is highly recommended that you purchase the book. It is a clear, practical guide on how to be successful at leading a small group.
Nine Keys to Effective Small Group Leadership
by Carl George (Author), Warren Bird (Editor) 1997, 2007