At the start of the New Year, I find myself looking back over the past year, as well as looking forward to the coming year. It is in these sacred moments of remembrance and anticipation that I am often moved to make resolutions. I try to make physical, emotional, and spiritual resolutions by reflecting on the events of the past year. The desire to be healthier motivates me to be a better person. As a small group leader, I hope to lead more effectively, love more purely, and seek out the lost more intently. In order to accomplish these grand goals, I consider these three words of resolution:
I remember what God has done for me. "Remember his marvelous works which he has done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth" (Ps. 105:5); see also Ps. 77:11-12).
I remember what I was before God saved me. "Remember that you were a slave . . ." (Deut. 5:15; see also Ex. 13:3; Deut. 15:15; Eph. 2:8-13).
I ask God to renew my passion, joy, and faith in serving him. "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10).
I ask God to renew my hope in him. " … but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31).
I prayerfully set goals and work toward them with the assurance that I will reach them just as Jesus did. "he replied, 'Go tell that fox (herod), I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal'" (Luke 13:32).
I set my sights on reaching for God's best. "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Ephes. 4:11-13).
This month, include your small group in making some outreach resolutions for the New Year. Focus your first meeting on reaching people with the love of God in the coming year. Ask everyone the question, "For you, what was the highlight of last year?" After everyone has a chance to share, ask your group to remember who they were before they met God and to remember the marvelous works he has done in their lives since then. By following the ACTS model of prayer (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication), make this a time of worship by praying prayers of adoration for what God has done.
Next, enter into a time of confession, asking God to renew a right spirit within you. As leader, model this prayer before opening it up for others to pray. When your group seems to be finished praying prayers of confession, move into prayers of thanksgiving. Again, model this prayer, then open it up for each member to pray.
Enter into a time of brainstorming outreach ideas for the New Year, corporately and individually. Some great resources are Steve Sjogren's books 'Conspiracy of Kindness,' '101 Ways to Reach Your Community,' and '101 Ways To help People In Need.' Also, access the Small Group Network's archives for 2002 and print out each month's Outreach Options. As a group, make outreach resolutions that are attainable. Make sure everyone is involved. Delegate someone to write down the ideas and type up a final outreach resolution plan that can be handed out at the next meeting.
Finally, enter into prayer again, this time praying prayers of supplication - asking God to bless the resolutions you have made. Throughout the year, make sure to take some time to again remember, renew, and reach. Watch as God's light burns brighter and brighter in this dark world.
Happy New Year and God Bless!