I thank God for a couple named Mark and Lyric who led a small group in Dayton, Ohio, nearly 25 years ago. I learned from these leaders and this group how to live as a Christian. They showed me how to study God's Word, discipled me, loved me, prayed for me, and became my good friends.
Mark and Lyric started that group and led it because that's what God called them to do. They didn't know what God would do with their faithfulness. They couldn't possibly have seen the impact they would have.
Your Important Role
Just like Mark and Lyric, what you do as a small-group leader has eternal significance, whether you see it or not. You are in the life-change business. When you build authentic Biblical community, you're building the kind of church Jesus dreamed about—the kind where people take off their masks and become vulnerable to the group and to God, where the group dives into God's Word to understand it and live it out, where people grow more and more like Christ every day and begin to step out to lead others, and where people get out of their comfort zones to live by faith and to impact the world around them.
Do you understand the important role you have? You are a minister of reconciliation, and Christ's ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). You are a servant of the most high God, administering his grace through your leadership (1 Peter 4:10). You are in the most strategic position in the church to bring about real, lasting life change in people's lives. You are on the frontlines of ministry, engaged in a spiritual battle for people's hearts and minds. You are touching people's lives directly, face to face and heart to heart, and you are making an impact for God in the world.
Does that seem huge to you? Do you ever feel like you're in over your head? You're not the only one to feel that way. But God has given you a big mission—a mission so large that there's no way you can accomplish it in your own power. And that's the point! God continually move us outside what we can accomplish on our own. He wants us to depend on him completely, so he gives us a mission that seems impossible in many ways.
Instead of feeling overwhelmed, though, remember that your part of the mission is simply to be faithful to it—to make it your priority while you're in this world. God will take care of the rest. He will make an impact and change lives through you. I love how Mother Teresa put it: "I'm a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world."
And that's what Mark and Lyric did. They were instruments in the hands of God. When I lost my job, they prayed with me. When I questioned what God wanted me to do with my life, they encouraged me to step out on faith. And just three months later, when I was heading to seminary, they helped me pack.
As a small-group minister, I've had the opportunity to hear other amazing stories of support and life change through small groups. One leader in our church witnessed the baptism of eight people from his group in a two-month period. This leader walked with his group through numerous unbelievably tough situations, including broken marriages and the loss of a teenage child. The group leader ministered to these families in their time of crisis, helping them to keep their eyes on Christ.
In another group, a young mom had surgery to remove an ovarian cyst. The same week, her 4-year-old daughter had her ninth set of tubes put in her ears. The small group prayed for them, visited them at the hospital, and brought them food at home, caring for their physical health as well as their spiritual health.
A salesman in another group had to keep turning down sales appointments because his family only had one working vehicle. A member of his small group had just purchased a new car, so he gave the salesman his used car. This empowered the salesman to continue working in order to support his family.
A couple from another group moved from Louisville to Delaware. Two months later, the wife had surgery, so people from the group drove the 12-hour trip to be with her and her family. The sacrifice this group offered spoke volumes to the family.
All these groups were led by ordinary leaders who served an extraordinary God. I believe every small-group leader can have this kind of impact. You can't make it happen, but God will multiply your faithfulness and your wholehearted work as you are involved in his mission.
Let me encourage you, leader: Don't give up! What you do is way too important. Like Mark, Lyric, and all these group leaders, what you do has eternal significance.
—Michael Mack is founder of SmallGroups.com, and author of several books including, Small Group Vital Signs; used with permission from the author.