I have watched enough sports over the years to have noticed that teams take on the personality of the coach. Good teams look a lot like their coaches. What the coach values, the team values (or else they play very poorly). If the coach focuses on defense, the team will focus on defense. Players will be attracted to teams that value their strengths. Some players will become multidimensional due to the coach bringing out new skills.
My point is that the vision that a coach paints of what is to be accomplished and what it will take to get there enables teams to win. The same is true in the church and in our small group ministry. We don’t have to settle for small groups doing what they have always done. They can be “tasked” to do what the church needs to have done. This takes prayer. This takes leadership. This takes vision. And this takes perseverance.
What got me thinking about the “tasking” of small groups with a purpose needed by the church was an article by Russ Robinsonentitled The Vision Behind Small Groups. In the article, Russ answers a thought-provoking questions:
What functions of small groups should church leaders focus on?
Mull that question over before you continue to read. Small groups can help the church to accomplish all five of her purposes: evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, ministry, and worship. Notice I said HELP! I believe this should begin in prayer and in serious evaluation of the ministry of the church. What are the needs? What are the strengths? What are the weaknesses? What could small groups do that would strengthen the ministry of the church. According to Russ, it is important to “determine whether your church should focus on the caring, spiritual development, or organizational-renewal role of small groups.” He and church leaders recognized the church need to address assimilation which was what they “tasked” small groups to do.
In many churches, there is no focus or there are too many foci. Narrow the focus. Paint the picture. Share the vision. Extend the challenge. Help small group leaders know what you expect. Help them understand what you want them to accomplish. Help them to know what success will look like when they get there. Russ suggested asking church leaders this question:
What is the entry point that will allow us to make the most progress in our church right now?
What is most needed in your church? What would your church most benefit from that could be delivered by your small groups? Consider these possibilities on which small groups might focus:
- EVANGELISM: Does your church need to reach out to unchurched people to share the love of Christ?
- DISCIPLESHIP: Does your church need people to grow more deeply in love with God through spiritual disciplines, studying God’s Word together, prayer, and accountability to live out the truth of God’s Word?
- FELLOWSHIP: Does your church need relationships to grow deeper in order to keep people connected to the church, growing in Him, and serving Him?
- MINISTRY: Does your church need to mobilize more people into service in the classes, church, community, and world?
- WORSHIP: Does your church need to meet God daily in a quiet time, to open God’s Word together, and to gather to encounter Him in Bible study?
Pray for God’s leadership. Evaluate your church’s ministry . Ask others to join you in the conversation. Share the vision. Task your small groups to help your church accomplish her mission. Be revolutionary!