By Reid Smith
For years I would tell people how awesome groups are and why they needed to join one. I figured I would see greater results with more “stage time” and energy put into encouraging people to connect. However, the extra emphasis rarely yielded results that were much better than normal. This prompted me to rethink how to help people catch the vision for biblical community and become intentional about growing spiritually with other believers.
As with many things in our Christian faith, the most powerful actions are the ones that are simple to take. For example, I came to realize that instead of delivering just the right words with gusto, I needed to ask the Lord to convey the vision to people’s hearts and inspire them to start or join a group. In the process, I found that God would give me something to share that I didn’t plan originally. Here are a few things I learned along the way that helped inspire people to say ‘yes’ to being in Christ-centered community:
- Start with the ‘why’ – Answering the fundamental “why questions” for people speaks to the heart; otherwise, they’re just going to hear the un-motivational message of what we think is good for them to do. Groups are the means (or strategy) to the end of biblical community. Highlight personal stories of life change via video or live testimony.
- Avoid “selling” groups – God inspires next steps. People’s best efforts in coercion usually only result in temporary change anyways. Besides, community is not so much about what people can get from it, as it is what they can give to it. As a result, they’re blessed with more than they could have imagined.
- Emphasize purpose over need – People want their lives to count and to fulfill their God-given purpose. Think invitation over promotion. People are not inspired to get involved when groups are promoted as something that fills a personal need. Rather, biblical community enables people to be a part of something they could never do alone.
- Have faith that God is building His Church (Matthew 16:18) – Never forget that it’s God who is continuously and victoriously building His Church and making things grow (1 Corinthians 3:7). We just need to be faithful in working hard and praying hard.
If you dig deep into the biblical blueprint of the early Church in Acts 2:42-47, you can find over two dozen positive aspects of this supernatural gathering of believers. It’s helpful to have some of these benefits in mind to share with the people you influence, whether it’s a few friends or an entire congregation. As a result of engaging in groups, people can expect these transformational outcomes:
- Fulfill your God-given purpose
- Engage effectively in God’s mission in the world
- Enrich your understanding and application of God’s Word
- See results in greater consistency and depth in spiritual practices like prayer, reading and reflecting on God’s Word, etc.
- Build healthy spiritual friendships that are vital for encouragement and accountability
- Enable believers to be faithful in living out the ‘one anothers’ of the New Testament
- Mobilize God’s people to reach more people with the life-changing good news
- Facilitate meaningful connections where each one can function as the part of the body of Christ that God has made us to be by discovering, developing, and deploying spiritual gifts
- Know God more personally and intimately in community than you ever could alone because Jesus reveals Himself through the love of other believers (1 John 4:7-12)
- Develop and multiply leaders so all believers can experience full-bodied discipleship and play an active part in living out The Great Commission together (Matthew 28:18-20)
This only skims the surface of the inextricable significance of biblical community to the mission God has entrusted to His people (2 Corinthians 5:16-20). The invitation into a group is really an invitation to join in God’s mission. It’s how we grow strong in the Lord and His mighty power (Ephesians 6:10-18). So when we talk about the benefits of believers joining a group, it’s not so much that their needs will be met…it’s more that they join in the purpose to which God has called them: To make disciples. Put simply: To join a group is to join in God’s mission.