Linda lay in bed recuperating from knee surgery. As much as she wanted to go to church and participate in the weeks leading up to the 40 Days of Purpose campaign, Linda could barely get out of bed.
She kept thinking about Pastor John's challenge to host a group for the 6-week campaign. How could that be possible? Though she couldn't sign up group members at church, she prayed people would become a part of her group. When the week came to launch her group, Linda had 15 members. Seven of them were unchurched. One was her husband, who faithfully helped Linda prepare each week for her group meeting, even though he had yet to surrender his life to Christ.
Prayer was essential to the formation of every group at The Vineyard in Wheeling, West Virginia. This 25-year-old church of 550 adults prayed and fasted that God might work in and through their church as they studied The Purpose Driven Life. When Pastor John Rasz and Pastor of Small Groups Chris Figaretti presented a three-week series on community, they challenged all members of the church to open their hearts and homes for six weeks to host a group.
The first week, 78 groups for adults and six groups for students began. Each host was asked to take only enough study guides for their committed small group members. Only 50 copies remained from their order of 1,000. The 78 groups had 950 members! Ten percent of the church was originally connected in small groups; in a matter of weeks, this went up to 173 percent!
How did this happen? First of all, the church prayed intensely. Secondly, they made the invitation to host a group as engaging as possible and didn't compete with other church agendas. Every other program and ministry focused on the 40 Days campaign. ...