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April 5, 2013

Community Group Meeting - Is it a Program or a Platform?

Dear Leaders,

Your small group meeting can become a regular program that group members attend and you lead or it can become a regular platform for ministry to group members. The following insights from Rick Howerton's blog on small groups can help you discover how to move beyond the group meeting and into personal ministry with your group members. 

When a small group leader looks into the eyes of their group members, they are looking into the eyes of a group of people they have a responsibility to move forward in their journey to spiritual maturity. But, before that can happen, the leader must conclude precisely where the group member is on that journey.

There are four questions that need to be answered concerning each group member. The answers to these questions will determine how the group leader relates to and sometimes converses with each group member.

1.  Is he or she a follower of Christ? If a small group leader realizes that a group member has not yet crossed the line of faith and become a Christ-follower, the leader needs to 1) make the most of every opportunity the Holy Spirit creates to voice the Gospel to that group member, 2) watch the group member closely during group meetings and capture a transformational moment when it occurs, 3) carefully answer any question the group member has and bathe that answer in the person and story of Jesus, 4) integrate the Gospel into every group conversation when it is possible and appropriate. 

2.  Is there a past experience the Enemy, Satan, is using to hold the group member captive? Some group members are Christ-followers but the Enemy is using a past experience or past experiences to keep the group member from realizing the joy and peace that Jesus promised. Past experiences might include ongoing verbal, physical, or sexual abuse by a family member or someone else, a group of high school friends defriending the group member, a church spiritually abusing, etc... Satan uses such experiences to demean the person and destroy the new heart one receives when adopted by God. Realizing whether or not a group member is in this situation will explain their attitudes and reactions to many conversations and will make it possible for the group leader to point them toward the help they need that can aid them in their movement toward freedom. 

3.  Is he or she proactively on a journey toward Christ-likeness? Many believers received Christ and are active in church but are not proactively striving to become Christ-like. When a group leader is aware of spiritual apathy, that group leader then begins to do whatever is necessary to motivate the group member to be involved in spiritual disciplines, spend time conversing about the things of God, and slowly move the person toward a walk with Christ that is real and passionate and transformational. 

4.  What can I do to help the group member take the next step? Once a group leader is aware of the answer to the three questions you just read, the group leader must ask herself/himself how they can help the group member to commit to taking whatever the next step is for them. Helping group members commit to next steps is the first step toward transformation that is real and eternal. 

Important Reminders

Leadership Community - April 15 - You will hear some important things from our two surveys about our small group ministry.  Register here. 

Baptism Service, Sunday, May 5-Perhaps a next step for some of your group members is baptism. Please use the platform of your group meeting to let members know of this opportunity and your willingness to talk with them personally about this next step. Our webpage is a very helpful resource  

Leader's Guide:  If you would like to receive the leader's guide for the Family in HD sermon series, please let me know.  I will email on Sunday by Noon and it will be posted on our website on Monday morning. 

Life Application Notebooks:  Notebooks will be available in the Resource Center starting this Sunday to use for sermon notes and small group discussion notes.  Suggested donation is $2. 

Grace, Tim