How can the local church body “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19a)? Certainly we would all agree that Christ’s body is larger than one local church body. But that does not mean we no longer have individual church fields and responsibility in the larger mission.
There are several biblical images that can spur our thinking about boldly conquering the mission Jesus has given us one new class or group at a time. Consider the following:
OVERFLOWING POT OF OIL (2 Kings 4:3-6). Elisha helped a widow by telling her to seek as many jars as she could because her jar of oil would fill all the jars until she ran out of jars. The resulting oil would be enough to pay her debts. Existing groups will frequently have spill-over guests who flow out of the group unless they find a new group to flow into. Sometimes the reason we don’t keep guests is that we have so few pots (groups) in which to hold guests.
MOSES & JETHRO (Exodus 18:17-21). Moses could not care for and serve the masses well alone. With Jethro’s help, Moses was able to organize the large group into small groups of about 10 people. Each group had a leader and each leader had a coach. Accountability often happens best in small groups. When leaders of groups have coaches, the leader is more likely to stay on task and on track. The coach is able to help the leader realize when the span of care is greater than his/her effectiveness and encourage apprenticing and the birthing of a new group.
THE BODY AND NEW CELLS (Romans 12:4-5). What happens when the human body stops producing new cells? It dies. The same is true of the local church body. New cells are necessary in order to sustain life. New cells come in the form of additions to the church body and the addition of new Sunday School classes/small groups. From time to time, older classes/groups will end, but in church body life, new groups are needed regularly for life to be sustained.
SHEEP PENS (John 10:1-16). A sheep pen can only hold so many sheep. In order to hold more sheep, more sheep pens are needed. The same is true of Sunday School classes, adult Bible fellowship groups, and small groups. New groups are needed in order to care for more people.
NEW WINESKINS (Matthew 9:17). New wine bursts and leaks out of old wineskins. New wine is best kept and cared for in new wineskins. This is also true of people new to our classes/groups. They often leak out/leave our existing classes/groups. New classes tend to do the best job of reaching out to and keeping new people. In my experience, existing classes hold onto some new people best when new classes are regularly started. While new classes attract, some people like variety and choose existing classes, and new classes also challenge existing classes to reach out.
What biblical images come to your mind as encouragement to start more classes/groups? Press the comments button below to leave your image and reference. Start a conversation. Share the images with your leaders and members. Challenge them to pursue our Lord’s mission one class/group at a time.
Pray Jabez’s prayer. “Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain'” (1 Chronicles 4:10, NIV). Pray. Do what he leads you to do. Be faithful with what he has entrusted into your hands. Join the Lord in caring for those He is adding to the body daily who are being saved (Acts 2:47). Be revolutionary by starting new groups/classes!