Note: This article is excerpted from our resource Missional Small Groups.
When my husband and I started attending a new church in 2011, we knew we wanted to be in a small group. But we don't just like our small group; we've fallen in love. Our church is highly missional, and the mission is lived out through small groups. The group members always have their eyes open for opportunities to bless others.
It's been a growing experience for us. We've been stretched out of our comfort zones, and we're compelled to look for opportunities to care and serve. If there's one thing I've learned about being missional, though, it's that it's messy. It doesn't fall into neat boxes. It doesn't stick to normal lines. It doesn't even have a clear cause and effect. Regardless, though, there's a definite sense that you're doing what God calls his followers to do: show the love of Jesus to others.
Warming Up to Missional Living
A few months after we started attending, our group decided to throw a housewarming party for a woman who had been homeless. Now in an apartment with a young son, she had nothing—no silverware, no plates, no pans. She didn't even know how to cook. We showed up at her apartment on a rainy night. More than 15 of us stood in her small living room, giving her our gifts, helping her put things away. One couple brought a slow cooker with several recipes, offering to show her how to prepare them. The young mom was overwhelmed and quietly put the items away. We didn't know the right things to do or say, yet we stayed for over an hour just loving on her, laughing at jokes, sharing stories, and listening to music. We didn't know what our gifts would mean to her, but we tried to be Jesus' hands and feet … and that's all we could do.
Later that year, the young mom we helped desired to help others in the way she'd been helped. She let our small group know about an under-resourced mom and her two girls—and she wanted to work alongside us to bless her. This small family was on the cusp of homelessness. They had a home, but there wasn't much money left over for anything else—including food. When we talked to the mother and found out how badly they needed food, we set to work. We brought tons of groceries over to their home, filling their cupboards and refrigerator. The mom was overwhelmed by the bags of groceries brought by the eight relative strangers invading her home.
The biggest blessing, though, had nothing to do with food. Instead, it was the love we gave her daughters—a 9-year-old and a 7-year-old. Her younger daughter was born with a condition that has left her severely deformed. Her body remains the size of a 1-year-old, and she must be carried around like a baby, unable to walk or sit on her own. She also can't speak. Because people aren't sure how to act toward this young girl, many just look away.
I, too, was nervous to interact with this young girl, a million questions running through my mind. Despite those questions, two of us sat holding her while the rest of the group helped the mom put away the groceries. When I said "hello," she smiled so wide. A grin snuck onto my face. We held her, brushing through her hair with our fingers, telling her how beautiful she is. The woman with me had brought her own daughter who promptly asked what was wrong with this little girl. My friend quickly responded, "That's how God made her. Isn't she beautiful?"