When we want to get our small groups involved in service, the "regular" opportunities always come to mind: cooking for a soup kitchen, volunteering at a homeless shelter, cleaning up the church, organizing a food pantry, tutoring at an after-school program, and so on. Those can be great opportunities, but what if we were able to truly engage the passions of our group members?
Several years ago Nathan Gonzales, a longtime small-group leader at National Community Church, decided to lead a fantasy baseball group. On the surface that sounds like the least spiritual small group ever—just a bunch of people who like baseball getting together to chat about America's favorite pastime.
However, Nathan's group took things a step further, adopting a local little league baseball field. On Saturday mornings, they groomed the field: cutting the grass, chalking the lines, and raking the sand.
Nathan and his group sought to impact the kids who would come to practice and play on the field, but God had different plans. The group's care of the field drew the attention of neighbors and the administration of the school the field was attached to. However, the group's most lasting impact may have been on the league commissioner, who was always amazed that a group of people would consistently show up to work for free, without asking for anything in return.
Nathan could have had his group serve at a soup kitchen Saturday mornings, and that would have been fine. But by leveraging his groups' passion for baseball, they were able to show Christ's love to a part of the community that wouldn't be reached through most of the "regular" serving opportunities.
This fantasy baseball group groomed that field every summer for four years. When we engage the passions of our group members, they actually enjoy serving and are far more likely to continue doing it, thus multiplying their impact.
Think outside of the box. What are the people in your group passionate about? How can your group leverage its passions to demonstrate the love of Christ to your community in a tangible way?