If you are looking for a way to incorporate outreach and mission into your small group ministry, look no further than the neighborhoods into which God has placed church members. The uttermost parts of the earth may lie a lot closer than you think.
My involvement did not spring from a strategic plan but was a matter of practicality. One of our dearest church members, Abigail, had become a shut-in, and I worried her disability would leave her feeling disconnected from the church body. I asked if we could bring the church to her by having a small group study in her home.
When we made the arrangements, I envisioned the familiar faces of 6-8 women from our own congregation sitting in a circle around the perimeter of Abigail's living room. When I walked in that first night, though, I encountered a sea of strangers, and Abigail's face smiling up at me. "I hope you don't mind," she said, "but I invited some friends and neighbors to try it out."
" Great!" I said outwardly, while inwardly I felt slightly unsettled. We were the only two from our church. Who were all these people? What would they be expecting? Would they be disappointed? What, if any, beliefs did they have? Did any of them attend church? What toes was I in danger of stepping on? â€œHelp, Lord,â€ I prayed.
In the few minutes that remained before we started, there was some surface chit-chat, during which I recalled that those He sends, He equips. I could rest in that and in the knowledge that though the composition of the group was a surprise to me, it was not a surprise to Him. Once the study got under way, my initial concerns faded.
At the end of the evening, though, I could not say for sure who would return. I did not press for any type of commitment. ...