If you are a small groups director or a small group leader, at some time you've probably shared your heart for small groups ministry; in fact, you have talked about the vision and values of small group ministry until you're blue in the face. Then one day you take your people to a small groups conference or workshop. As they walk out of that conference, a new sense of conviction and vision and excitement for what God is doing through small groups is evident. (Of course, they heard exactly what you have been saying for years except they heard it from an expert—which, of course, is someone they don't know who lives more than 30 miles away!)
Interestingly, this is exactly what Paul did for the churches at Colossi and Laodicea in the book of Colossians. Paul had not met these Christian brothers and sisters personally, but he wrote a seminar for them on what "Christian community" was all about. Let's listen to the "expert" share his convictions about small group ministry:
- Forming spiritual community is the Spirit's work. Colossians 1:29: Even though we may work hard, it is not ours. Most of what we do is give up control, get out of the way, and let the Spirit take over. More than anything else, we pray.
- Small groups are part of the strategy for presenting people perfect in their relationship to Christ. In Colossians 2:2 he says, "My goal is that we be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love." Paul states that being knit together or literally tied up with other Christians is a central part of God's strategy to lead us into a perfect relationship with Christ. Having close connections to other Christians, people who have the very Spirit of God living inside of them, actually attracts us to Jesus and allows us to see what Jesus is like. In verse 3, Paul says this connection actually leads us to a full understanding of Christ himself. But if you aren't close enough to another Christian's life, if you aren't knit or tied together, you will have difficulty seeing what a relationship with Jesus looks like.