One of the greatest seasons of joy and growth, both spiritually and numerically, I’ve experienced in ministry is when our small groups really embraced the idea of being Small Groups on mission. It took vision, direction, intentionality and many tough conversations to take the idea of small groups on missions from a cool catch phrase to an actual reality.
The toughest but most groundbreaking conversation we had to have, was to help our coaches, leaders and small group point people understand the difference of being socially aware versus being socially arrogant.
When it comes to serving our communities, there is a fine line between being socially aware and being socially arrogant. We do this when we think we know how best to help the homeless or when we decide to impose our views on the poor, the addicted, the minorities, the undeveloped nations, etc… We do this when we refuse to give money because “they’ll just buy drugs” or when we refuse to help others because they “aren’t helping themselves.
Because God helps those who help themselves, right…actually that’s not anywhere in Scripture. I’m still trying to convince my mom of this, ha!
No, not only is this not biblical, it’s the complete opposite of Jesus’ teachings. Understand, you don’t have to help everyone, but you can help one person; or as Pastor Andy Stanley says, “Do for one what you wish you could do for all.”
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I love this quote from the book Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity, “We don’t get to opt out of living on mission because we might not be appreciated. We’re not allowed to neglect the oppressed because we have reservations about their discernment. We cannot deny love because it might be despised or misunderstood. We can’t withhold social relief because we’re not convinced it will be perfectly managed. We can’t project our advantaged perspective onto struggling people and expect results available only to the privileged. Must we be wise? Absolutely. But doing nothing is a blatant sin of omission. Turning a blind eye on the bottom on the ground of unworthiness is the antithesis to Jesus’ entire mission. How dare we? Most of us know nothing – nothing – of the struggles of the poor. We erroneously think ourselves superior and it is a wonder God would use us at all to minister to His beloved.”
The biggest mind and heart shift that we can help our leaders make and then empower them to help the people in their groups to make is to stop seeing the act of serving our communities as charity work and the people in those communities as projects.
In Matthew 20:24 we see Jesus have compassion on two blind beggars while the religious types around Him, in their social arrogance, yelled at them to be quiet.
What did Jesus do? He healed them.
Why? Because they couldn’t help themselves.
We have the awesome opportunity as leaders to help lead our people through these tough but reveling type of conversations in regards to serving our communities.
The hardest part in all of this though, is asking our selves the tough but reveling question…am I being and leading my people to be socially aware or am I being and leading my people to be socially arrogant?
It’s the answering of this question that will direct us to the steps we need to take to make the idea of small groups on mission a reality in our churches and the communities we serve.