God is saving, keeping, maturing, equipping and deploying his people. He does that, to our good and for his glory, as his gospel is prayerfully spoken.
Keep it simple
We are missionaries who long to stand forgiven on the last day with one another and with as many from our city and beyond as our gracious God is pleased to call. We want to honour our Father and the Lord Jesus while we wait, both in our words and activities. With that desire in our hearts, there are a huge array of programs and events that we could pursue.
As we begin we will be pushed towards simplicity by virtue of numbers, but numbers are not the only reason to push towards simplicity. By focusing on a few things in which we pursue core priorities we can be careful to maximise the impact of what we do and maximise time available to do life with gospel intentionality–both with one another and with unbelievers.
With church, small group and doing life on our agenda, maintaining gospel intentionality at each level will be key.
View church and small groups as a package
Church and small groups offer distinct advantages. The model we are pursuing seeks to use them as a package with both elements serving evangelism, discipleship, training and service.
I’ve touched on the advantages of linking small groups to the sermon series previously. I envisage us following the sermon rather than preempting it. There are a number of advantages:
- we get to pursue clear understanding and focused application in the small group context.
- a feedback loop of mutually strengthening the impact of each context will develop.
- the small group effectively becomes a context for weighing what is said in the public proclamation and emphasising the final authority of the Scriptures.
- the preacher and other leaders can help each other with preparation of studies.
- the whole church pursuing discussion of the same book of the Bible will help work it into our DNA.
- leaders get a good feel for whether the preaching is communicating and connecting.
- new people more quickly get up to speed as they are invited and join in the middle of a series. (The contribution by the newcomer, ‘the preacher said…’ can easily be made and followed by the standard response to the whole group ‘where do you see that in the passage?’.)
A similar set of implications apply in terms of having the children’s and youth ministries following the same series–something that I’m keen to work towards. There are further advantages in increased opportunities for conversations in families.
Form small groups as expressions of mission
Small groups are a great context for evangelism. As unbelievers come, they get to hear and see what a Christian is more intimately than in most other contexts.
Over coming months I’d like us to deliberately form small groups with mission on view. That is, to work out who we will gather with, where and when we will gather with mission opportunities in mind. Groups or some members of a group may:
- meet in a cafe or pub where friends will more easily join them.
- partner with one another in involvement in the same social project.
- provide creche on a weekday morning to more easily include stay at home mums.
- meet early before work in the city so as to consistently meet and meet at a time when colleagues can come.
- take particular interest in helping with marriage, parenting, adjusting to uni.
- meet late on a Saturday arvo so as to be able to go on to social things later and invite friends along.
Part of forming a group with mission on view is having a conscious trajectory towards growth and planting. We do not meet in order to establish a stable group but an inviting and welcoming group which as people join will reach a point where it is possible to plant a new group. (This is the same principle we have in mind as a church.)
Do life together with gospel intentionality
Our relationships extend beyond the formal meetings of church and small church–there is an informal social dimension to our life.
Our relationships have an end… that is a goal. They are a pleasure in and of themselves and as we await the return of the Lord Jesus they are for our mutual encouragement and partnership in making him known. By doing life together we have opportunity to disciple one another and partner in evangelism in the back yard and the local cafe.
I suspect this will be done best at a level that is aware of small groups but also crosses their boundaries.
Even at this stage, it would be great to deliberately catch up between meetings and invite others into those relationships.
I think it would be a good investment to use one of the November meetings as an opportunity to get together at a park or the like and invite friends along to be part of it.