"The optimal environment for life-change is a small group."
That statement was made popular by Willow Creek in the early 90s.
It was, and is, a statement that is only true when certain things are happening. That is, in order for group members to experience life-change, certain things must be true. For starters, the group must have a leader who functions as a shepherd; a life-changing leader. See also, Groups of All Kinds and the Essential Ingredients of Life-Change.
The Critical Question:
Here is today's critical question: Is life-change happening in the lives of your small group members?
How about this question: How many of your small groups are experiencing life-change?
Or this one: How many of the members of your groups are experiencing life-change?
Questions like these are challenging aren't they? In fact, they are the kinds of questions that make performance evaluations a little dicey. If you know what I mean.
After all, if the point of your small group ministry is to connect unconnected people AND make more and better disciples...then your groups must function as optimal environments for life-change.
Say it with me: Yikes!
I don't know about you, but I have long believed I am responsible for making this happen in the groups ministries I've led. I've also long believed I will be accountable for my work in this regard.
My understanding of this responsibility comes from various things Jesus said; particularly what He taught in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25) and the Parable of the Minas (Luke 19).
You remember the stories, right?
Here's the beginning of the Matthew 25 version:
"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip."
I get my sense of responsibility and accountability from the line that the master divided the bags of silver "in proportion to their abilities." That is, the one who received 5 bags of silver would be responsible and accountable for the most.
In other words, I believe I have been given a stewardship. And at some point I will be accountable for that which I've been entrusted.
And as a small group pastor, one of the things I've been entrusted with are the lives of the members and leaders of the groups in the ministry I lead.
Say it with me: Yikes!
Now, you'll recall the end of the story:
"After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’
21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’"
I'm pretty sure all of us want to hear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."
The stewardship I have been given (and for which I am accountable) should shape the way I lead a small group ministry.
The stewardship I have been given should shape what I do with my time and energy, prompting me to do TO and FOR (and WITH) small group leaders whatever I want them to do TO and FOR (and WITH) the members of their groups.
The stewardship I have been given should shape what I do with my time and energy, prompting me to do TO and FOR (and WITH) small group leaders whatever I want them to do TO and FOR (and WITH) the members of their groups. Click To Tweet