Thursday, August 18, 2011

Do We Really Need New Ideas for Small Group Ministry?

I've been asked to write a blog post where I share something innovative in small group thinking, some idea that will help churches advance small groups in new ways. I am excited to contribute an idea. I do have a few. However I find myself fighting with myself as I write about innovative small group ideas.

King Solomon once said that there is nothing new under the sun. Every time I read a book or blog that promotes some kind of new idea that will revolutionize small groups, I'm quite cautious. I've yet to find any new small group idea that is really new. I'm even cautious about my own new ideas.

What I have found is that most of the small group fruit that I have experienced is the result of some very basic principles that are as old as Moses. Groups flourish in an atmosphere:

  • of prayer, which causes me to ask if churches today depend upon programming more than they do upon prayer.
  • of life together, where people connect in healthy relationships, but most people are too busy to really invest in a few people who share life in a group.
  • of neighborhood engagement, where love is given without expectations, but to many in the church spend their energy judging those who need love instead of actually loving them.
  • of relational discipleship and mentoring, where spiritual growth is not dependent upon attending classes but upon personal investment in one another.
  • of relational investment in leaders, where coaches and pastors have the time to invest in the lives of leaders and in group members.

But is any of this really new? Not really. Maybe our innovations are simply undiscovered ideas that have been true all along. Maybe what need are new ideas to help churches facilitate these relational principles listed above. The focus though is not on the new ideas, even though my pride gets in the way from time to time and wants to elevate their importance. All that we innovate must be in the service of promoting relational life, community that is on mission.

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