I read an interesting article from Psychology Today last Saturday.
It tells us that though our ‘web connections’ have grown broader but shallower. Stephen Marche and his research team tells us that we are more isolated that ever before, and also more accessible than ever imagined.
This means that while we have hundreds of friends in Facebook and scores of followers on Twitter, the relationships are actually shallow.
We can know what Lady Gaga ate for breakfast and what city One Direction is in today but there’s very little relationship if any.
Loneliness and being alone are not the same thing, but both are on the rise. We meet fewer people. We gather less. And when we gather, our bonds are less meaningful and less easy. The decrease in confidants—that is, in quality social connections—has been dramatic over the past 25 years. In one survey, the mean size of networks of personal confidants decreased from 2.94 people in 1985 to 2.08 in 2004. Similarly, in 1985, only 10 percent of Americans said they had no one with whom to discuss important matters, and 15 percent said they had only one such good friend. By 2004, 25 percent had nobody to talk to, and 20 percent had only one confidant.
Hebrews 10:25 says, Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Let me encourage you to get into a small group, volunteer or continue to build meaningful relationships.
Every so often, I would hear people talk about their small group (Bible study/prayer group). I love it that many are so involved with making disciples. At Victory, we are really just about 2 things: Honoring God and making disciples.
However, there are times when I cringe. I’m sure people don’t mean it the way I’m hearing it but it really just doesn’t sound right.
I’m talking about the phrase “my disciples.”
They’d talk about having a meeting with “my disciples” or fellowship time with “my disciples.”
Worse, they refer to the people in their group as “under me”.
Whose disciples are they really?
When we look at the Scriptures, when “my disciples” show up, it is Jesus speaking. Whose disciples are they? Not mine, not yours, but HIS.
John 8:31. To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
John 13:35. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 15:8. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Minor adjustment in terms but a HUGE change in mindset.
We switched to small group ministry model at Victory some time ago because we realized that discipleship cannot happen in a crowd. Back in Shangri La days, the church grew by huge numbers yet we weren’t sure how many were effectively being discipled.
Even Jesus had his small group of guys he was coaching and mentoring.
It has been the strategy we felt was applicable and effective. Strategy is defined as a plan of action inteded to accomplish a specific goal. Any strategy should be simple and easy to implement.
Understandably, we are open to other strategies if we see that something will work better but at this point, small groups is the way to go.
Why do we feel it’s applicable and effective?
1. Small groups help us engage people for Christ.
Many are willing to first attend a small group environment before coming to church. “Some want to belong first before they are willing to believe.” (Andy Stanley)
2. Small groups equip every member to be a minister.
Ministry is not limited only to those who are in “full-time”. Ephesians 4:11-12 tells us that the full time ministers job is to equip the people to do the works of ministry.
3. Small groups empower more people to serve.
Church has looked like a basketball game all too often – 10 players badly needing some rest, while 10,000 people who badly need some exercise, watch .
4. Small groups help establish authentic community.
Discipleship is relationship. We’ve heard that all too often. It’s relationship with God, with other believers and with the rest of the world. Small groups help establish authentic community with fellow believers.
5. Small groups offer maximum flexibility.
Small group meetings can be anywhere – Starbucks, Pancake House, basketball court, office, at home… anywhere!
6. Small groups allow us to be better stewards of what God has given.
With small groups going on in many different locations, the need to have huge facilities will be at minimum so we can re-channel the funds for other ministry opportunities.
7. Small groups remove major growth limitations.
One of the major limitations to growth for churches is venue limitations. Our Ortigas church meets in a very small space in a mall yet has more than 8,000 people. How can this be? Small groups!