Essential Ingredients for Life-Change

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You’re reading this…so you already know that the optimum environment for life-change is a small group.  Right?  After all, that is one of the key axiomatic beliefs of small group ministry enthusiasts everywhere.

The question is, “Is it true that a group is the optimum environment for life-change?”  Or are there some factors that must be in place for that to be true?

I’ve been saying for several years that life on life is how life-change happens and small groups are the best delivery system for that.  Say what you want to about mentoring.  It doesn’t scale.  That is, once you’re beyond 75 to 100 people, you’re going to have a very hard time delivering life on life through a mentoring strategy.  It becomes much more realistic to give the opportunity to a much larger number of people through a small group strategy.  That said, there are a few essential ingredients that must be present in a group for life-change to be likely.  Here’s my list:

  • Communication in the group must be two way.  Dialogue.  That means we’re not really talking about it being led by a teacher.  I don’t really change if I’m just listening.  It can be a contributing element.  But, it’s not enough.  I also need to talk.  It is much more likely that someone with gifts of shepherding, encouragement, leadership or mercy will be a more effective leader.  Or a teacher who understands how to start a conversation.
  • The small group needs to be a safe place.  I’ve got to able to share what’s really going on.  Not on the first week.  But in time I have to get to the place where I can share life with someone else.
  • The meetings must be frequent enough to maintain connection.  Once a month is not enough.  Twice a month is a challenge because if I miss once…it’s been a month.  There’s not a magic number, but more frequent insures better possibilities.
  • There needs to be an intentionality about what happens.  A kind of plan.  This is what’s so appealing about the Spiritual Health Assessment and the Spiritual Health Plan that are part of the Purpose Driven approach.  I’ve written about these two tools right here.
  • It goes without saying that time in the Bible and prayer together are essentials.  This makes what you study very important.  You’ve got to be providing study materials that are about application.  It’s not enough to learn about the Bible.

These are the essential ingredients.  If you want life-change to happen…it won’t be accidental.  And it won’t be automatic.  It will be because these ingredients are at work.

Want do you think? Have a question? Want to add something?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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  1. Diane Reinstadtler on August 27, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    I don’t know if you are pre-supposing that the individual knows Christ as Lord and Savior. If not, the Bible will do him no good, for he can’t “understand” it…it is spiritually discerned (1 Cor2) He can understand salvation, but he won’t have lasting change without the new life within. (Phil 4:13) I think that it would be good to mention that. It won’t scare people away, because most people who are looking for solutions, have tried many “programs” and are looking for something different

  2. markchowell on August 27, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    I see your point, Diane, but this post describes the essential ingredients that must be present that make a group “the optimum environment for life-change.”