Here are some ways a small group could play becoming more missional.
Becoming comfortable to talk about spiritual things
Being part of a small group that enables participation is one way of getting people used to talking about their relationship with God. In the past this has often been the area that only leader’s voices are heard.
So as different people in the group voice what it is like for them to have a relationship with God then language is developed and concepts are formed for them. This makes it easier for them to answer questions when asked about their faith in an everyday context.
An individual sharing their personal story, why they believe
Using a welcome question in a small group like “How did you first come to know Jesus?” gives group members an opportunity to tell their story in a safe place.
This builds confidence and allows them to see how parts of their journey of faith fit together. This can also be a good place to look at some of the objections people raise to believing in God and how we talk about these in a helpful way.
Learning to listen for where people are on their spiritual journey
One of the other areas we develop in a small group that encourages participation is an ability to listen to each other. This sounds obvious but it is a key area which relates to the way we think about mission.
In a world where people are approaching faith from such different backgrounds and perspectives we need to develop good listening skills and discernment of where they are and what it might be helpful for us to talk to them about.
Making relevant and helpful connections to Jesus
Bringing Jesus into our everyday conversations. Again this sounds obvious but all too often I don’t think we do this naturally.
So once again, our small group can help us out here. Encouraging our group members to talk about how they interact with Jesus throughout the week is one way of starting this. This does two things it gets us reflecting on how and when this happens and also gets us used to sharing these stories with each other so this becomes a more natural thing for us.
We can then consider sharing some of these examples with friends and work colleges as the occasion arises, and in particular when they ask us questions about the practicalities of our faith.
Making connections to the Jesus story
Another idea and good way to create lively content for our small group and help us in our outreach as individuals is to look at the stories about Jesus that we each resonate with.
All of us have our favourite story about Jesus, one that we connect with and has particular meaning for us. Many of these stories are not now current currency in our culture. So it a good idea for us to be able to tell them.
The telling of these stories is especially powerful because they have a significance to us personally and our retelling of them and why we like them bring them to life in a whole new way. So we can do this in our small group and encourage one another and perhaps take the opportunity to share them with our friends when the opportunity arises.
If you are like me, you are full of good intentions but need help deliver these in real terms. I often imagine people that I could invite to various things. However it takes some sort of external pressure to help me do what I want to.
My small group has been good in this regard as I share what I would like to do, i.e. invite my neighbours to sing Carols in our street which is a close before Christmas and they ask me how I am doing with it and offer to turn up and bring mulled wine and make it happen! In this way we can help each other do the things that we have a heart to do.
We are often a bit private about our faith and need something easy and non-confrontational to share with our friends. Lending them a book, DVD etc is one way of doing this and stirring spiritual interest, seeking their feedback about what they have read or watched.
Again, looking at this in our small groups can be really encouraging, as we can share the resources that we have found helpful and we could give to others. We can then pray for each other and our friends as we give them out.
There is a need for us to be real about the challenges we face as Christians and share the things that we are struggling with as well as the good news.
Authenticity is a very strongly felt need in our society and so we need to be vulnerable and share those parts of our faith that we are grappling with.
Again our small groups should be places of authenticity and honesty so to have those conversations here will help us to be real with our friends in our everyday world. I think doing this could be very attractive and there are plenty of Biblical examples of this so we are in good company.
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