Do you remember the first time you were invited to a small group? I do. I had visited Centerville Christian Church in Dayton, Ohio, and met a few people my age. (I was 28 and single at the time, and was shopping for a church. I had not yet fully given my life to Christ.) They invited me to their group, and I noticed that some of them were single and others were married, but that didn’t matter; they all seemed to have a strong desire to grow in the Lord, and they really cared about each other. And, besides that, they were fun to be around!

I remember especially how it felt to be invited. I felt like they wanted me to be part of their group, to be a friend. One of the greatest human needs is the need to be wanted, to be included in the lives of others. I also felt cared about. They were genuinely concerned about my spiritual life. Unlike some other churches I had visited, I didn’t feel like a “spiritual conquest” among these Christians. They cared about me as a person and I felt like they wanted to be my friend. And that made all the difference in the world to me.

Like those friends from my first group, we have a great privilege to invite people to our small groups, especially when they do not yet know Jesus as Savior and Lord. But remember, it is God who is doing the calling. In John 12:32, Jesus said he would draw all men to himself. God had already been drawing me to himself when I first showed up the group. He had used relatives and co-workers, friends, even an ex-girlfriend’s wonderful grandmother to move me toward himself. That small group was sensitive to the Spirit’s moving and invited someone to their group whom Jesus was already drawing. I was God’s invited guest to their group; they were simply the people who got to extend the invitation!

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This post is adapted from my book, Leading from the Heart: A Group Leader’s Guide to a Passionate Ministry (TOUCH Publications).

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Michael Mack has been involved in small group ministry as a pastor, writer, trainer, and speaker for more than 25 years. He founded in 1995 and started Small Group Leadership in 2012. He became the 12th editor of Christian Standard magazine in 2017 and continues to speak in churches about small groups, discipleship, and leadership. He lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (just outside Louisville), with his wife Heidi. They have four young adult children. Michael enjoys mountain and road biking with a group of friends. See the "About Michael Mack" page under About Us for more about him.

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