EXCERPTED & EDITED FROM RICK HOWERTON’S POST at http://www.rickhowerton.wordpress.com .
Small group pastors talk often about the need for creating community in every small group. But there are few books that unearth the leadership style necessary to or the expectations of someone who leads a small group with the goal of creating a faith driven Christian community.
Moses is an excellent example of a leader that created a God fearing community from scratch. There are five things Moses did that every small group leader would be wise to consider.
- Listen to God – When God speaks to Moses through the burning bush, Moses leans into the conversation. In fact, when God calls his name, Moses responds by saying, “Here I am.”(Exodus 3:4) Moses realized he was in the presence of God and, because the God of the universe was speaking to him, Moses listened intently. Today we will most likely hear from God through His Word or as the Holy Spirit whispers to us. Either way, when God speaks, leaders that long to create God-centered community listen intently as God will often give guidance to leaders as it relates to the community of believers they lead.
- Respond when God speaks – Those who long to create Christian community do more than just listen. When God speaks they respond accordingly. Moses had left Egypt fully aware that he might be viewed as a murderer if he returned. But, when God directed Him to go back to lead a people to freedom (which should be one of the goals of every small group leader) Scripture says Moses, “returned to the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 4:20) Leaders that create biblical community model a life of action. When God directs them they do what God has directed them to do. When a small group leader does this other group members follow suit and soon the group is no longer just a Bible study, it’s a faith driven family making a difference in the world.
- Trust God – On multiple occasions Moses went before Pharaoh, not requesting that Pharoah release the Israelites, demanding that Pharaoh set God’s people free. God directed Moses to speak boldly for God and declare to Pharaoh on behalf of God, “Set my people free.” Each time Moses went before Pharaoh he trusted that God went before him. Every small group leader that creates Christian community speaks the truth in love boldly on behalf of God to the group they lead. Without doing so they will never create a community that is truly God fearing.
- Walk with God – Moses spent time with God. On multiple occasions Moses and God were together privately. And in many of those instances Moses was either gaining information from God that would give guidance to the community Moses was leading or Moses was crying out to God on behalf of the community he was leading. This is a marker that every small group leader needs to evaluate themselves with. If a small group leader is going before God gaining direction from Him for the group they lead and crying out to God on behalf of the group they lead, that group leader houses a mindset of creating a God-honoring, Christ-centered Christian community.
- Delegate Responsibilities – When Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, comes to visit and Moses explains to him that he is overwhelmed by all the work that he is doing, Jethro directs Moses to delegate some of the responsibilities. (Exodus 18) When a small group leader delegates some of the responsibilities that are necessary for a group to accomplish all it needs to accomplish, the group members who take on those roles are much more passionate about the community they are in and take pride in being part of the community they call their small group. By delegating responsibilities to other group members the small group leader relieves themselves of work while at the same time creating an even greater bond between group members which ultimately creates a strong Christian community.
“Hospitality is an underrated gift. When we invite people into our houses, our churches, our lives, the hardest of hearts will melt. There is something about the generosity of an invitation that makes people take notice.
My wife and I bought a home last year and it has taken most of that year to fix it up to the point where we can invite people over without feeling self-conscious. This past summer we invited several of our neighbors to a backyard bar-b-que. It was nothing short of amazing to see them let down their guards and let us get to know them. We have formed friendships and enjoyed the kind of neighborly give and take you hope for when you buy a house in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
Hospitality is a lost gift in many churches, yet it should be one of the primary functions of the body…. There was a time when you couldn’t walk through the door of an evangelical church without being approached by four or five well-meaning believers who wanted to make you feel at home. Not only did Christians welcome strangers to worship, but churches had well-oiled visitation programs assuring that newcomers would receive friendly follow-up visits in their homes.
Where has the hospitality gone?
A lack of hospitality toward strangers has crept into churches, where many believers feel safer ignoring those they don’t know. Hospitality is an unglamorous subject that doesn’t get much attention from the pulpit. The command from the writer of Hebrews to “show hospitality to strangers” (13:2) contradicts a protective society’s warning to children to not talk to strangers. Yet in Romans 12:10–13, Paul puts “practicing hospitality” on par with being “devoted to prayer” and “serving the Lord.”
Sharing popcorn and friendship
When I moved to Florida in 1978 to work in Christian radio, a welcoming spirit was evident at the churches I visited there: the Nazarene church where a tall, twenty-something red-haired man would not let me leave without finding out everything about me; the Assembly of God church where a woman invited me to dinner with her family; and the Baptist church where three people literally ran to catch me at the end of the service before I left.
I ended up worshiping regularly at that Baptist church because of a shared bowl of popcorn! One Monday at 9 p.m., after I had visited the church a few times, a young married couple knocked at my door, just as I was making popcorn. I was a bit embarrassed, since my bachelor apartment was a mess and it was obvious that I wasn’t planning on guests. But instead of apologizing or handing me some printed church information and leaving, the couple accepted my halfhearted invitation to sit down and share my snack. Their kindness was not just in stopping by to visit, but in feeling comfortable enough to eat my popcorn and treat me like a friend.”
Let us determine now that you and I will use hospitality in our homes and in our congregation as a means to receive others and introduce them to Christ if they haven’t already met Him!
Being “missional” or “missional living” is a term that in essence describes a lifestyle that is devoted to the “mission” (or “purpose”) of Christ. Being missional includes embracing the posture, the thinking, behaviors, and practices of the Master. Hence, a follower of Jesus whose intent it is to emulate their master in everyday living is being missional. The “mission” or life-purpose of the missional Jesus follower becomes to be like the master every day – 24/7. Individual believers may be missional and whole congregations (churches) may be missional in order to reach others with the message of the gospel. The basic premise is that all Christians should be involved in the Great Commission of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20).
Essentially, the idea of being missional teaches that the church has a mission because Jesus had a mission and transferred that mission to his followers before his ascension (see John 20:21). There is only one mission and that is God’s (Christ’s) mission. A “missional church is a community of God’s people that defines itself and organizes its life around its real purpose – that of being an agent of God’s mission to the world. In other words, the church’s true and authentic organizing principle is Christ’s mission or “commission” (see Matthew 28:18-20). When believers and the corporate body of believers (the church) are prioritizing daily life and living based upon Christ’s mission, he/she/they are being the true church (scripturally).
LET US EACH CHOOSE TO BE MISSIONAL FOLLOWERS OF JESUS!
If we’ve learned anything, it’s that all the best things in life are people. Don’t lose sight of this in the middle of the little hurts, wounds and misunderstandings that are the price of admission to the beauty of relationship. We are FAMILY – and #asfamilywego
“Spiritual gifts create the synergy that turns a small group into a Christian community.”
The body of Christ is made up of many parts. Some are teachers, some administrators, some prayer warriors, some apostles, some encouragers, etc… When each person in a group knows their spiritual gift/gifts and exercises those gifts for the good of the group an unearthly synergy is created, a synergy that is of the Holy Spirit and that transforms a group into a Christian community.
SO, TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK? EMAIL OR MESSAGE ME!
Watch this short video!
Whether it is on Sunday morning, Sunday night, or any other day of the week at any time (my new small group is meeting on Wednesdays at 5 AM), here is the motivational reason we do traditional and new model small groups at CHBC. This is OUR VISION for small groups.
“A Biblical small group for every person within Tuscaloosa County that is making disciples that make disciples.”
Because Christians do not grow in maturity of faith and walk outside of Community. Community is more than a group of people coming to the same room/place on a regular basis. Community is a trustworthy and dependable group of Christians that do life together; supporting each other, holding each other accountable, and growing in their faith together as they experience the fellowship of the Holy Spirit in daily living.
THREE TYPES OF SMALL GROUP LEADERS… WHICH ONE ARE YOU?
In my experience, there are three types of small group leaders… 1) Organizational, 2) Educational, and 3) Transformational. Every group leader needs to understand that there is only one type of group leader that accomplishes the primary expectation of Jesus, to make disciples.
The Organizational Leader has as their goal to make sure the group is efficient. This person spends much time making lists, creating schedules, and hosting meetings of leadership teams. This person often gives too much time to these three things.
The Educational Leader has as their goal to make sure the group is gaining knowledge. This person spends much time preparing to lead the Bible study. This type of leader has on their shelves (or favorited in his web browser) commentaries, study bibles, and any other books that aid them in preparing. This group leader type will spend as much time as necessary, up to 15 hours a week in many instances, in study so that they can TEACH those in his group. This person often gives an immense amount of time to preparing to lead a bible study and, in the process, makes amateur theologians but seldom makes mature disciples.
The Transformational Group Leader has as their goal to see group members shaped into Christ’s image. This person spends much of their time meeting with group members, being with them in various settings so they can model Christlikeness for them, studying the Word of God enough to be able to guide the Bible study conversation to application, and praying for them. The transformational group leader realizes that they aren’t the catalyst to transformation, rather the Holy Spirit is, and so the transformational group leader gives the bulk of the time they have as a group leader praying passionately for God to do what only He can do in those they’re shepherding.
Transformational Leadership should be the primary leadership style of every group leader. When this becomes number one and organizing the group and educating the group are put in their rightful place, the group leader will find their leadership identity, not in being efficient or in being scholarly but in seeing group members lives transformed more and more into the image of Jesus Christ.