How to Have an Outwardly Focused Small Group
Some of the best and healthiest small groups are those that really see themselves as a microcosm of the larger church. In other words, similar to the way that the church cares about worship, supporting one another and caring for each other’s needs, so too does a thriving small group. One of the important values of the larger church that often gets neglected in our small groups is evangelism.
The default mode for a lot of small groups is one of two things: fellowship or Bible study, or maybe both. Groups are really good at hanging out together and having food and meals and snacks together. They’re also pretty good about breaking open the Bible and listening to a curriculum and hearing someone teach us the word of God and learning new insights. But what doesn’t come so easy is developing a missional, outward focus.
Being mission means getting out into our neighborhoods and really caring about our un-churched friends. It also means sharing our faith and serving in our community. Getting a small group to come together and actually do these things is often a challenge.
There are a few ways you as a leader can help your group become more missional. First, consider teaching a curriculum that is all about moving your group outside of their comfort zone with fellowship and Bible study to beginning to share their faith with others and being engaged out in the community. Many Christians have never been taught the skills of how to actually start God conversations that lead to a place where someone is given the opportunity to receive Jesus Christ.
Another thing you can do to change your group’s focus is to get them to pray for their un-churched friends. These could be people that live in your neighborhood, are in your workplace, or that play on your kids’ soccer team. It could be anyone God has laid upon your heart. You may want to begin by asking everybody in your group to bring a name or two of someone they’d like to pray for the next several weeks. Compile these names in a list and make sure that part of your prayer time each week is spent by lifting up those people that God has put on your heart. Then watch God begin to deepen the burden for sharing your faith with those around you!
One more thing you can do is by leading a local outreach project. This could be any activity that gets your group out serving people in need and maybe even people who are far from God. One word of caution: Don’t try to do too much! For instance, don’t do something that’s going to require a whole month of Saturdays, but choose something that your group can do on just one Saturday morning for just for a couple of hours.
Part of the call of the church and part of the call for each of our lives is for us to be ambassadors of Christ, to share our faith, and take the love and message of Jesus Christ to those around us. Let’s encourage our groups to step out and answer this honorable call.