One of the signs of a healthy small group is a group that serves. What do I mean by “serves”? I mean that the group members all have an active role in serving the needs of the group, the group members serve at their church, and they serve in the community. In this post I explain how a small group facilitator can equip the people in his group for service and ministry.
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I. A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO THE SMALL GROUPS PHILOSOPHY AT OUR CHURCH[ref]This material is based on David Ward Miller’s material that he has provided to me and to use to lead our LIFEGroups ministry. Material under this section is a copyright of David Ward Miller.[/ref]
A. Quick Review of our “LIFE” LIFEGroup Culture
These are the core values that guide every small group at our church.
- L = Learning – Instilling the Word of God.
- I = Including – Assimilating new people.
- F = Fellowshipping – Experiencing biblical fellowship.
- E = Equipping – Preparing people to minister.
2. Four Practical Aspects to RHCC’s LIFEGroups
We want every small group to have these four elements as way to ensure the group is healthy and strong.
- Apprentice – Training new facilitator leaders.
- Empty Chair – Committed to outreach.
- Unifying Question – Complimenting weekend worship, not replacing.
- Serving – Working together to serve our church and community.
3. Why Do Small Groups?
New Testament believers met in temple courts and from house to house (Acts 2:46; 5:42; Rom 16:5).
B. Rocky Hill Church’s “Simple Church” Philosophy
1. Simple Church Based on Scripture
37“You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39A second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 40The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments. (Matt 22:37-40)[ref]Unless otherwise noted, all translations are from the New Living Translation (NLT).[/ref]
2. Simple Church Definition
“A Simple church is a congregation designed around a straight-forward and strategic process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth.”[ref]Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger, Simple Church: Returning to God’s Process for Making Disciples (Nashville, TN: 2006, B&H Publishing), 60.[/ref]
3. Simple Church in Practice at Rocky Hill Church
Four Areas of Discipleship
• Magnify – love that worships.
• Mature – love grows.
• Minister – love that serves.
• Multiply – love that reaches out.
• Attend a worship service.
• Be in a small group.
• Serve at church.
II. HOW TO EQUIP YOUR SMALL GROUP FOR SERVICE
A. Accountability: the “Leader’s Report” for Caring Oversight
1. Accountability in Scripture
We see accountability in the book of Deuteronomy. Moses has led the nation of Israel out of Egypt, they have spent forty years wandering in the dessert, and Moses brings them to the edge of the Promised Land. Moses summoned all of the Israelites (Deut 29:2) together so that they would obey the terms of the covenant and prosper (Deut 29:9), so that the people and future generations to hear his words (Deut 29:14-15), and so that they would not wonder from God (Deut 29:18). Part of Moses’s last message to these people was about accountability:
The LORD our God has secrets known to no one.[ref]The “secrets known to no one” probably refers to future details in progressive revelation that God had not yet revealed (Jack Deere, “Deuteronomy” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, vol. 1, 315).[/ref] We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all of the terms of these instructions. (Deut 29:29, NLT)[ref]Also see Hosea 8:13; Heb 4:13; 13:17.[/ref]
Moses was trying to convey to the nation of Israel that God has been clear in providing expectations of Israel. They will be held accountable to what had been “revealed” through the “instructions.” Yet, there were other “secrets known to no one” and the Israelites were not accountable to those. They were only accountable to what God had revealed to them.
When you agree to facilitate a small group there are some expectations that your church will expect from you. Certain things that your small groups pastor and the church expects you to do and follow. Yet, there are things that you might not know about or things that are out of your control. That is okay.
Your church should be as clear as possible as we can with you about what the expectations of you are. Things will happen that are outside of your control and that you might not have anticipated, but that’s okay.
2. Accountability in Practice
One of the ways that we maintain accountability at our church is a regular “leader’s report.”
Why We Do a Leader’s Report
• Helps maintain alignment of you and your small group with the mission of our church.
• Helps you stay on track to do what you should be doing as a small group facilitator.
• Sometimes it is easy to overlook things or forget to do certain things, so the leader’s report is a reminder.
• Ensures continuity among all the LIFEGroups at Rocky Hill Church.
• It will save you time, effort, and heartache long-term.
• Your life as a small group facilitator will be easier.
What Is the Leader’s Report
• Checklist (attendance, Unifying Question, began/ended on time, time for prayer, apprentice development, prayed for the empty chair, balanced discussion involvement, invited to serving opportunity)
• Feedback/Discussion (Where there any confidential people issues? Any general needs of the group? What good things have ben happening in your group? Any Bible questions you need answered?
The Leader’s Report maintains that there are some things we want to ensure that our groups are doing. In working with all the groups there are certain things that they need to do to maintain a healthy and active small group. With nineteen different groups, I see a lot of things occurring, and this list is a compilation of what healthy groups do.
B. Activation: Discovering Fulfilling Volunteer (Releasing One’s DESIGN)
“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. . . . You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
1. Our Goal for People Serving at RHCC
Our goal at Rocky Hill Community Church is to have everyone that is involved in a small group to be involved in serving at church in some way, shape, or form. This goes back to the “Simple Church” concept shared at the beginning of this blog post. There are a lot of things a church can do and some things a church probably should do, but as a small church there are only so many things that we are capable of doing. Our goal is to get people involved in those things that we are capable of doing and should be doing.
2. Help People Discover What They Are D.E.S.I.G.N.ed to Do
Our church uses a study we have written titled, “DESIGN.” It is based off of some material that my senior pastor, David Ward Miller has created. However, there are two other great studies you can use in your small group to help people discover their spiritual gifts and learn about what they are designed to do.
Your Divine Design by Chip Ingram
This is a great DVD-based study that your group can use. Our church uses Chip Ingram materials for a lot of our groups. Because of that, I have included a video that I created to help small groups learn to use this material. That video is below (if you can’t view the video, you can click on the link here to watch it on YouTube). You can purchase the Your Divine Design study at LivingontheEdge.org.
SHAPE by Eric Rees.
I have not personally gone through SHAPE, but I have heard it is a great study. You can purchase the study materials at Pastors.com.
C. Authority: Developing Servant-Hearted Leadership (Becoming an Influencer)
1. Our Discipleship Goal at RHCC
The Four Ms (based on Matt 22:37-40)
• Magnify – Love that worships.
• Mature – Love that grows.
• Minister – Love that serves.
• Multiply – Love that reaches out.
Serve from Abundance, not Emptiness
The best people to have serving in church are people that are actively participating in a LIFEGroup. We want people to minister to others, but also be ministered to. We want people that are in leadership positions to be in a LIFEGroup. It can be hard as a volunteer to lead a ministry. So being in a LIFEGroup helps a person to get filled up since they are pouring themselves out in ministry. When someone is in a LIFEGroup the staff knows that that person will be cared for and encouraged. Therefore, when they serve they will be serving from a place of fullness and abundance. They will be getting filled up and loved while in a LIFEGroup, and able to serve from a healthy place.
2. Is “Servant” a Biblical Idea?
Americans despise the idea of “submission” and “service” to others. Yet Bible encourages it. Just in the New Testament, there are eight different Greek words used to describe the idea of “servant” (doulos, diakonos, pais, oiketes, huperetes, therapon, sundoulos, douloo). There are four different Greek words used to describe the idea of “serve” (diakoneo, douleuo, latreuo, hupereteo). And there are three different Greek words used to describe the idea of “service, serving” (diakonia, leitourgia, latreia). As you can see, the idea of serving and being a servant are common terms frequently used to describe the Christian life. We as Christians need to cultivate what it means to be a servant and actively be one on a regular basis.
3. A Study of Submission in Scripture
God Requires Submission
• From All People (Pss 2:9-11; Job 22:21; 1 Peter 5:6)
• From Christians Especially (Matt 6:9-10; Heb 12:9; James 4:7)
Jesus Christ Submitted to His Father (Luke 22:42; John 5:19; 12:49-50; 1 Cor 15:27-28; Heb 5:7-8; 10:5-7)
The Submissive Spirit Required in Church
• In Believers’ Relationships with Each Other (Eph 5:21; Phil 2:5-7)
• To Jesus Christ (Eph 5:25; 1:22-23; Col 1:18)
• To the Scriptures (Josh 1:7-8; Pss 119:113; Col 3:15; James 1:22-25; Rev 22:18-19)
• To Church Leaders (Heb 13:17; Rom 13:1; 1 Cor 16:15-16; 1 Thess 5:12-13)
The Submission of All to Civil Government (Rom 13:1; Matt 22:21; Rom 13:2-7; Tit 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-14)
Submission within Other Relationships
• Wives and Husbands (Eph 5:22-24; Col 3:18; Titus 2:4-5; 1 Peter 3:1, 5-6)
• Children to Parents (Eph 6:1-3; Exod 20:12; Gal 4:2; Col 3:20)
• Slaves to Masters (Eph 6:5-8; Col 3:22-24; Titus 2:9-10; 1 Peter 2:18)
• Young to Old (1 Peter 5:5; Lev 19:32)
4. A Process of Being a Servant-Hearted Leader
• Accept divine direction and correction from God and his Word.
• Accept direction and correction of your pastors.
• Accept doubt of yourself.
• Accept the disbelief of others.
• Apply yourself with the confidence that God and your pastors love you and will support you.
III. CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION
A. I will actively work in cooperation with my church and small groups leadership.
There are nineteen different small groups that we have as part of our church right now. We want to allow each group to have it’s own flavor and feel, but at the same time we need to make sure each group has the same food. When we share certain expectations with our groups and ask them to share how things are going, it is not because we want to be mean and control them. We want to help them and we give them a set of guidelines because we know that it is what will ensure they have a healthy and productive small group going forward.
B. Keep track of who in your group is serving and encourage everyone to serve in some way.
If you want to know what your people are doing, you can always ask your small groups pastor or someone on staff at church. Or you can gather that information from your group just from paying attention to what they talk about in group. And when I say “encourage everyone to serve in some way” there is a certain level we are going for. The person that brings one doughnut to the breakfast table at church once a month doesn’t really contribute much. That’s not what we are looking for in the idea that “everyone serves.” But the person might say, “I don’t have a lot of money.” Then go help out with the kids. “Well I am not a good teacher.” No, you don’t teach. Can you walk a kid to the bathroom? Then you can help with the kids! In other words, everyone can serve in some way!
C. Do a spiritual gifts study sometime within the next year.
The studies I have listed all take less than two months to complete. Set a goal to do these studies in your small group sometime within the next year.