September 23, 2011
Do you see Jesus as one who mostly says yes or no?
As surely as God is faithful, my word to you does not waver between "Yes" and "No." For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between "Yes" and "No." He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God's ultimate "Yes," he always does what he says. For all of God's promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding "Yes!" And through Christ, our "Amen" (which means "Yes") ascends to God for his glory. –2 Corinthians 1:18–20, NLT
I was recently reading 2 Corinthians and this passage struck me. While I've read it many times, the idea of Jesus being God's ultimate "Yes" rained fresh living water over me. How often do we view Jesus as the ultimate "Yes"? Jesus says "Yes" to love, redemption, grace, restored relationships, healing, lasting change, meaningful community, life to the full, hope, help, freedom. Sometimes we equate Jesus with "No" more than "Yes." For example, we can easily point out what we had to start saying "No" to when we began following Christ. When we see Jesus as a "No," life can seem hopeless. It can feel like a list of no's and not anymores and don't do thats—and they're all things we can't live up to.
But Jesus doesn't present himself as a "No." Recently my small group did a study on the freedom that Christ brings. It was fascinating how many people in our group had never thought much about Jesus bringing freedom to his followers (except maybe literal freedom to prisoners in Acts). It was a foreign idea that we all need freedom—from sin, misunderstandings about God, legalistic tendencies, past hurts, and more. We also realized why so many unbelievers may equate Jesus with saying "No;" we had been living lives that did not showcase the freedom that Christ brings!
What might happen if we changed our message about Jesus? What might happen if our primary message was "Yes" instead of "No"? What might happen if we began presenting to our group (and everyone we know) all the things Jesus says "Yes" to? I believe we'd paint a different picture of Jesus for many people. We might even become caught up in this new, beautiful picture of Jesus. And those no's, I bet they'd pale in comparison and fade into the background.
Does your group understand Jesus as God's ultimate "Yes?"
Can all types of groups successfully point to Jesus as the ultimate "Yes?" For instance, are accountability groups able to do this?
September 12, 2011
Or at least to our usual attitude.
Alan Danielson recently wrote on his blog that he hates small group mission projects. I think his point is valid. He clarifies that he has no problem with missional groups, but rather with mission projects – because they're seen as projects, not as primarily about people or relationships.
How often do we view people as projects or goals? I remember having a conversation with a friend once about the fact that she had a lot of friends who were unbelievers. I told her that I thought it was awesome that she was connecting with those outside her church family and encouraged her to continue strengthening those relationships.
My friend quickly looked down at her feet. "None of them have come to Christ yet. I've really been trying. I keep telling them about Jesus." She was clearly ashamed by the fact that none of her friends who were unbelievers had committed their lives to Christ yet.
My conversation with her, and others like it, have made me wonder how often we approach relationships with unbelievers like this. How often do we see them as people that we need to convince to commit their lives to Christ? How often do we see them as checkmarks on a small group progress sheet? (Meet weekly? Check. Invite new guests? Check. Lead at least three people to Christ? Check.) How often do we view building relationships with unbelievers as mainly for the sake of accomplishing a Christian goal instead of for the sake of loving someone that God loves?
How does your small group approach missional living? What does your ministry teach about being missional? How might we approach evangelism with authentic relationships at the center of our mission?
I'd love to hear what you think about this topic. Also, be sure to check out our newest article Nine Principles of Relational Evangelism by Randall Neighbour.
September 10, 2011
How to conduct a great first small-group meeting
Hello faithful readers! There is no other way to say it: I have dropped the ball in the last month when it comes to this blog. I was supposed to continue updating posts as I transitioned out of my role as Managing Editor of SmallGroups.com, but I let the responsibility slip in all the swirl of moving to a new city and starting a new job.
And I apologize.
But, no need to dwell on the past. Especially because the future is here! Amy Jackson is the new editor for SmallGroups.com, and you will be getting to know her on the main website and through blog posts here. As I have been telling everyone about Amy -- you are all in good hands.
Speaking of good hands, I wanted to make sure that all of you are aware of a new series of videos developed by Bill Search, who is the Small Groups Pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville. Bill has been a great writer for SmallGroups.com, and this series of videos he put together is targeted specifically to equip small-group leaders -- which of course makes me happy. :)
Here is a sample of what you'll find. Enjoy!