Recently our Fanning the Flame team gathered to listen to a lecture on CD about Small Group Discipleship. Here are some of my take-aways.
Many Christians have never experienced true Biblical fellowship; they are not being discipled or discipling others; they frankly are not interested in making disciples. The commission within the Great Commission is “Make Disciples!” so as saints of God, we need to take steps to make sure that is what we are about.
These are the elements of a Biblical Small Group Fellowship:
As you can see they form the acronym WELL. A healthy small group will include these activities.
There is a strong biblical basis for small groups in both the Old and New Testaments. The father-in-law of Moses advised him to form small groups in order to spread out the responsibilities of leadership (Exodus 18). Jesus chose twelve men to disciple (Luke 6:12-13) and the early church met in small groups in the homes of Lydia, Priscilla and Aquila and others.
To be maximally successful, small groups must:
- Be a church-wide ministry
- Have strong pastoral and leadership support: leaders must be in small groups
- Have clearly defined faith goals — each group should have a kingdom project, something outside of the congregation they will do together
- Establish relationships with non-believers
- Have periodic entrance and exit times
Some of the blessings of small groups include:
- Facilitation of discipleship — they are relational, not just informational
- Exponential expansion
- Provides a core of trained leaders
- Helps the Elders to fulfill their responsibilities to love and know the flock
Of course, there was more. Our Small Group Task Force is already hard at work, and we are hoping this will become a focal point for our revitalization. Facilitators are being selected and trained, and a “practice” small group, comprised of those people will start soon.
Keep praying for us as we continue on this journey to fan our embers into flames!
“One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” Psalm 145:4
There’s another type of unity in the church we haven’t discussed yet, and that is the unity between the Church Triumphant (the saints in Heaven) and the Church Militant (those of us still fighting the battle here on Earth). In case you are wondering, when Lutherans say “saint” it does not refer to certain particularly holy people: we believe all Christians are both saint and sinner.
It is our responsibility to pass the faith on to the next generation. In the founding documents of our church (St. Paul’s Free Lutheran of Leitersburg, Md) our forbears expressed the desire that their children would remain true to the evangelical faith and confessions of the church and would pass it on to succeeding generations in the community. That’s been going on for 190 years now. Those of us at St. Paul’s may not be physical descendants of those charter members, but we are certainly their spiritual descendants. When I worship in our old sanctuary, my voice and my prayers are joined with theirs. I can feel that unity. Some Orthodox churches feature paintings of saints on the columns and ceiling of the church: a reminder that those who went before are still with us.
In our Lutheran communion service we say “with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven we laud and magnify your name” …another important reminder that our fellowship includes those who have gone before us. We may not think about it often, but we should. It’s a source of peaceful strength.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
Who are your witnesses? Who are you witnessing to? Please send us your stories.