Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Jesus in You, The Jesus In Me

“The Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged…The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother.”
-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pastor / Theologian / Martyr
I heard a great story this week. The kind of story that encourages your heart about the impact of a small group of Christ followers engaged with each other in community.

The story is about a man who’s currently serving in vocational Christian ministry. He holds a key position within his organization. He’s wresting with some ideas that could have lasting ministry impact. Yet he was hesitant to present his ideas for change. He wasn’t sure the time was right. He wasn’t sure if he was the right person to bring these new ministry-shaping ideas to the key decision-makers in his organization.

He prayed about what to do. He remained uncertain…

Then he went to his small group. That’s when the quote from Bonhoeffer’s classic work on community came to life.

He opened up with his small group about his ideas and told them of how he had been seeking the Father on what to do. Yet he remained unclear. He asked his small group to speak into his situation.

The group heard his plea. They knew how intentionally he had sought wisdom and discernment from the Father. They listened as he wrestled. Then something significant happened. They encouraged him. They spoke words of truth into his life. He listened. And received the Godly nudge that he needed.

The following day, he walked into his office and presented his ministry idea. The president of his organization loved it! Wheels are now turning to put this new idea into motion.

The power of Christ in small group community has tangible impact in the lives of those willing to be honest, real, and seek Godly counsel.

Allow the Jesus in others to encourage the Jesus in you!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Take a Diversion!

My family just returned from a great vacation in Southern Arizona. We re-connected with some friends from our small group who moved to Tucson a year ago. The dads hung out and watched Spring Training baseball, the wives talked and shared parenting tips, and the kids played and played and played. We had a great time!

And then it was time to come home. So we loaded up the minivan and began the long trek. Lots of miles and road signs laid between us and our mid-point hotel destination.

After four hours on the road, a few pit stops mixed in for good measure, we were presented with a choice—take a diversion to see a city (Sedona, AZ) that came highly recommended by friends or stay on task and keep driving the Interstate to get to our night’s destination.

We took the diversion. Wow, are we glad we did! We were blown away by the beauty of God’s creation that envelops Sedona. It was simply breathtaking. And it was something that we would never have enjoyed had we stayed on task.

That got me thinking about small groups. (Yes, I’m weird like that.) I couldn’t help but think of our natural propensity to want to stay on task in a small group meeting. Whether the focus of the night is to finish a chapter or to spend the evening in prayer—all too often we get passionately tied to our agenda. We get locked in. Focused.

When we do this, we miss the diversion that could breathe life into our souls. We miss the opportunity to be surprised.

I’m not suggesting that every meeting should be a hunt for rabbit trails—structure and consistency to your group’s meeting time is crucial. But it’s also important for a small group community, at any given time, to be open to taking a diversion. You just might experience something that blows you away!