As a small group pastor, I sometimes feel that we have taken Jesus' words in Matthew and retranslated them to say, "Go into the world and make intimate small group experiences for everyone." Another one would be, "Go into the world and build an organizational flowchart for ministry, with small groups as the assimilation plan."
Does that sound familiar? If you are like me, you have felt that over the last few years. Also, if you are like me, you have hit a wall of frustration. I was tired of the paradoxes, the complaining, and the apparent confusion that our "simple" strategy produced in the lives of our leaders. I simply hit the wall.
Then Jesus reminded me of what He really said: "Go and make disciples." I thought again—"disciples." Light-bulb time! Discipleship is the goal—spiritual formation and expanding the kingdom of God. The intimate community, fellowship, assimilation, and other things are simply fruits. I began to realize that we have made small groups a whole lot more complicated and have focused on the wrong things as the goal.
Is it really just that simple? He said, "Go and make DISCIPLES"—that is our GOAL.
- Disciples have changed hearts, and hearts that are continually changing.
- Disciples are following Jesus with their whole hearts.
- Disciples have a heart for others.
- Disciples are part of the "body of Christ." Therefore, it requires relationships with others.
- Disciples are NOT FANATICS who abandon all care for themselves and their families for a cause or for the church.
- Our goal then is simple: Spiritual formation, discipleship, and kingdom expansion through the value of relationships.
God has put me through the ringer this summer. I thought the goal of small groups included:
- Building intimacy with others