CHURCH HEALTH IN SMALL GROUPS
When I was a young boy my aunt and uncle treated me to dinner one night. As the night went on I began to share with them how I was an anarchist! Of course, I was just being a boy and probably had no clue what I was actually saying. I was an anarchist…that’s right. As I was sharing this they asked me, “So, what are you going to do when you grow up?”
“Ummm…I want to be a police officer!”
Of course, the irony is classic.
We need family as we move forward towards our personal callings and destinies. True spiritual family can be sort of like my story as a boy. I needed some perspective outside of my own in order to see more clearly. One thing is true when it comes to discovering the places God is taking us personally, we can never do it on our own.
One of the greatest places to find this kind of family is in powerful small groups.
God Uses People
I grew up in the church. I know first hand how people can get hurt, isolate themselves and want to do life on their own. Pain is nothing new. Pain is the fruit of the fall. It’s not the original design for there to be pain in life. But, there is pain and it usually comes from people or what the Bible calls, “thorns in the flesh.” (Num 33:55)
It’s people that hurt us but it’s also people that heal us. As I’ve heard before, “When the devil wants to hurt us he sends people. When God wants to heal us He sends people.” The healing, the forward movement and the destiny of every believer is found in God and people. A lot of times it is found in God in people. Listen, destiny incubation is the process of people surrounding you giving input, advice, encouragement, opportunities and growth to those things that burn inside of your heart. We have to allow people to help us on the journey toward our callings in Christ. Without people we will miss out on key moments and the training needed to actually be the men and women that God has called us to be.
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” -1 John 1:7
Last summer my grandfather passed away at the age of 90. He was a great family man whose legacy was being a father and grandfather. As I traveled to Michigan from California to see him before he passed, I knew that I had a goal in my interaction with my family who I hadn’t seen in such a long time. It was to love them until they were uncomfortable and I was uncomfortable. So, I would sit next to my sister or grandmother and put my arm around their shoulder for a little too long. Until it seemed uncomfortable for me and possibly for them. Why did I do this? When you push the boundaries in that way, the point isn’t to freak people out or make them think you are weird. It’s to help them experience a deeper sense of connection. It helps them to get used to physical affection, which is so vital. I did it to foster love, care and relationship. This is really a vulnerable state to be in because it pushes against defenses that would otherwise determine my actions.
This idea of uncomfortable fellowship is so important when it comes to destiny discovery and what it takes to bring those things in the hearts of people to the surface. When it comes to incubating destiny within a small group everyone in the room must be brave and vulnerable. Being uncomfortable means sharing what you don’t want to share in a safe place. It means sharing fears, past experiences and lost dreams. But, let me tell you, when those dreams are recovered, those experiences healed and those fears broken by the power of the love of God within those people around you there is no stopping someone from getting on the road to fulfilling their dreams. It’s the spiritual family, found in small groups, that can be one of the major determining factors in someone reaching their potential in life and actually fulfilling the dream of God over their lives. This is the importance of small groups.
One of the most important things those in small groups can do for others is to give them permission to follow their dreams. Listen, I’ve seen multiple people in a room who all had different dreams. People whose dreams were to be nutritionists. People whose dreams were to be philanthropists. People whose dreams were to be involved in arts or church planting. People have passions to do different things. These things may not excite you one bit. You may wonder why they feel that way as it may not even make sense to you. But, the point is not that you burn for the same things. The point is that you desire every person to reach their specific dreams and their specific passions. When we can have this perspective we can give room for every part of the body of Christ to do its share (Eph 4:16). Giving people permission to step out, take risks and go after their dreams is one of the most edifying acts we can give.
Destiny Incubation involves giving people opportunities to grow and even putting them on developmental tracks and plans to see them move forward. But, let me tell you, there’s a relational aspect of spiritual family that has to be deep, meaningful and authentic. We need people in our lives. We need people to see every part of who we are in order to see a meaningful transformation take place and a destiny pursued. This is the importance of a small group. It’s a place of giving and getting permission to go after dreams. It’s a place of vulnerability and uncomfortable fellowship. It’s a place of letting God use people to heal us and getting us back “on the saddle” to move forward. It’s a place of letting others perspectives have a place in our lives.
If we live our lives in isolation then we can end up being that little boy who brags about being an anarchist but wants to be a police officer when he gets older and doesn’t see his error! We need people to help us in this life. Let’s do small groups so they become a safe place of growth and destiny!