Your personal commitment to Christ has a tremendous effect on everyone else in your group. When you are not growing in your own faith, your fellow group members lose something: your influence on them. But when you are committed to Christ, when you put yourself into a position where he can pour his love and grace and wisdom and strength into your life, he overflows from you into the lives of those around you.
I am in the middle of a series about Commitment and Small Groups. As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the primary commitments we must make is to Christ, to follow him, to be his disciple.
Group discipleship happens best when individuals make a personal commitment to spend time with God each day. They’re reading, studying, and meditating on God’s Word in their own personal quiet times. If the only time people open their Bibles is during the small group meeting, that’s not enough! That’s not healthy. That’s not real discipleship.
People must be responsible for their own spiritual growth, with the support, encouragement, and accountability of others in the body of Christ. So often, I hear long-time church-goers say, “I just need to be fed.” It’s natural for baby Christians to say this (see 1 Corinthians 3:1, 2; 1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 5:13), but as we grow, we begin to learn how to feed ourselves. In fact, by the time we are mature, we ought to be feeding others (Hebrews 5:12, 14; 6:1). We grow not by being fed, but by feeding ourselves on the meat of God’s Word and then by becoming spiritual parents who feed others.
My four kids are all teens and young adults now. When we sit down for dinner tonight, not one of them will ask me to cut up their meat or feed them. In fact, each of them knows how to prepare a meal for the rest of us. When our neighbor’s babies are around, they can feed them their mashed peas. This is no big deal, of course. It’s just a natural part of growing up. If my kids told me, “I just need to be fed,” I’d be worried!
What is your small group teaching people to do: depend on others to feed them or feed themselves and then others? Develop an environment where you are encouraging people to feed themselves as they commune with God each day.
When group members show up at a meeting after communing with God through the week, the Holy Spirit is not a stranger when he shows up! Group members come prepared to share with one another what God is doing in their lives. All week, God has been pouring into them. Now, when they meet together, he overflows from one life into another—mutual discipleship. A whole group that is spending daily time with God naturally overflows into the lives of others outside the group as well. It’s in these overflowing groups that God adds to the number daily those being saved!
Parts of this post are adapted from Chapter 7 of my book, Small Group Vital Signs: Seven Indicators of Health that Make Groups Flourish. Get your own copy HERE to read more about the seven vital signs of a healthy group.