Why Your Small Group Needs To Get “Outed”
God desires to pour out His Spirit out on your small group! He is ready for your small group to see lives transformed and changed! His will is that people who attend your group meetings would encounter an undeniable sense of His Presence in your midst (Matt. 18:20)! He desires for your small group to have many testimonies of answered prayer! Do you want to see those things happen too?
For me, the most exciting times to lead have been when people in my small group discern God’s hand at work among us. This is a dynamic that we can never take credit for as leaders because it’s not humanly possible to fabricate it in our own effort. However, I do believe there are ways we can position our small group to be attractive candidates for God’s blessing.
In 2 Kings 4:1-7 we read a testimony of God pouring out His blessing for a family. It’s also known by the title, “The Widow’s Oil.” In short, a widow supernaturally fills a large amount of empty jars with oil from one miraculous jar of oil. She then sells the jars of oil to pay off a large debt and save her sons from slavery. The key verses I want to hone in on are verses 5-6 which read as follows:
So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out. Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another vessel.” So the oil ceased. – 2 Kings 4:5-6, NKJV
Notice that as long as she poured out oil into an empty vessel the oil increased and multiplied. As soon as she stopped pouring out, the oil ceased. The oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit (Ps. 23:5, 1 John 2:20) and the jars or vessels are people (2 Cor. 4:7).
I believe this metaphor is a powerful concept that holds 3 transferable lessons for small group ministry:
1. There must be elements of our small group that bring an outward focus. In most cases, a group of people (especially Americans) don’t accidentally become unselfish. Without healthy leadership, most groups will gravitate towards focusing on what they need for themselves. The most effective way for a group to think “outward” is through intentional practices. We’ll talk more specifically about that in a little bit.
2. As the group moves in an outward direction, God will pour out His Spirit and blessing on the group. When a small group is disciplined in getting their eyes off of themselves they paint a big, red bulls-eye for God to extend His hand upon them. The more a group gives, the more room is created for the miraculous activity of God.
3. When a group becomes inward focused, God’s favor can decrease or possibly even cease! When all of the group attendees only care about what’s in it for them, they create an invisible ceiling (or limitation) over their spiritual development. When this happens, personal agendas begin to creep in, cliques and gossip have a greater potential for appearing and the journey of spiritual maturity can be halted.
I don’t think anybody would openly state that they don’t want the outpouring of God’s Spirit to be increasing and flowing in their small group. I know you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t already hungry to learn, grow and fulfill your God-given potential.
The fact is though, if our small groups aren’t aimed properly, they could be unintentionally working against Jesus’ discipleship process.
Let me share 3 Ways We Can Keep Our Small Group Pouring Out…
1. Encourage the Group to Invite New People. A group with guests and new faces is a group that will never become stagnant. A leader that regularly encourages their group to invite new people through verbal announcements, email communications and/or text messages, will continually remind their people that their small group is on a mission to minister to more people. It reinforces a missionary identity that God desires each person in your group to adopt for their own self-image (even if you have a closed group, encourage them to invite new people out to the weekend services).
Lastly, when new people do show up to your small group, it seems to have this uncanny ability to put everybody on their best Christ-like behavior (which they should’ve been on anyways).
2. Serve Together As A Group. Create a project or opportunity for your group to serve somehow outside of the small group meeting. You could feed the homeless together, help a family in need together or team up with a small group nearby to help out in the neighborhood together. The options are endless.
Having an intentional plan to do something together for others guarantees that at some point your group won’t be all about themselves.
3. Sending Out New Leaders and New Groups. Having a vision and goal to raise up Assistant Leaders and multiply the group into more groups keeps attendees kingdom-minded. When people can actually see others in the circle committed to being sent out to make disciples, it sharpens their focus on their own spiritual formation. As multiplication goals are discussed, people begin to get a bigger vision for the group as well as their own role within the group (see also Packin’ C4: Courage To Confront Comfortable Christians).
All of these practices cause a stretching in a believer’s heart. It’s a stretching that attracts the grace and power of God. It’s a stretching that re-shapes your group into a disciple-making community that God will pour His Spirit and blessing into.
In closing I ask a simple question: Has your small group been “outed” yet?
Thoughts? Additional ideas? Testimonies? Please leave them below in the comments/replies below…
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