Category Archives: Care
First, let me explain that I used to love doing one-on-one discipleship and I did it for years. I’ve taught on how to do it across the United States and in other countries. I even co-authored a great one-on-one discipleship book that has sold over 100,000 copies and been translated into a few other languages. (I’m not slamming this as an outsider!)
But then something unexpected happened. I invited a friend of mine named Mark into a one-on-one discipleship relationship. We met for coffee at Barnes and Noble’s and began working through the book Beginning the Journey which Ralph Neighbour and I wrote. It was going great and we were both enjoying it and he said, “Could I invite my friend Brian to join us? He could really use this.” I said, “Sure.” So the next week Brian joined us. Brian loved it and asked if he could invite someone else.
Before I knew it, my one-on-one relationship with Mark had morphed into a mini-group of four and I was startled by how much better everything went. Interaction improved, encouragement multiplied, and learning went to a new level. The group which had been great, got even better. I’m a slow learner and it took me a while to figure it out, but about ten years ago I ditched one-on-one discipleship to do small discipleship groups and have never looked back. Here are three reasons why you should do the same:
I was reminded this past week, by my wife’s actions, that small group leading is all about caring about people not simply leading a meeting. As I related in a previous blog, one person—let’s call her “Mary”—recently visited our group a couple times and then graciously let us know that she wasn’t coming back.
Obviously, Mary wanted to find a small group or she wouldn’t have come twice. For some reason our group wasn’t a good fit. We thought of another group with people in a similar life stage as her. We wanted to commend that group to her. We were going to talk to her at the following Saturday evening service, but she wasn’t there. Vicki decided to call her and let her know about the other group. But then she realized that she hardly knew Mary and that she needed to get to know her rather than simply doling out advice.
Vicki phoned her and asked if she wanted to meet for breakfast to get to know one another better. She did. They met and had a delightful time. Vicki learned a lot. Mary’s life hasn’t been easy. Many things were stacked against her right from the start. A recent crisis made her realize her need to get back to God. She knows almost no one at the Vineyard but knew that it was a safe and caring church. So she has recently starting coming to weekend services. Vicki recommended a ministry to her that she thought Mary could benefit from and find friends at. She also told her, that she is always welcome at our small group.
I’m at church every Saturday evening and all morning each Sunday. The worship service that Vicki and I normally attend is Saturday evening. Last Saturday evening when we entered the auditorium we looked around for small group members to sit with but didn’t see any. Then we looked for small group leaders or members from the West Zone but couldn’t spot any of those either. So we sat down next to someone else. About half way through the service, I noticed Mary sitting several rows in front of us. She was all by herself.
I want her to find rich relationship with others in the Vineyard family. I want her to give and receive encouragement, ministry, and caring.
She stopped by the Community table where I stand after every service to say “hi” and to let me know how much she enjoyed the time with Vicki.
Our group is having a potluck (with a Mexican theme) the week after Thanksgiving to wrap up our Outflow study. We’ll invite her to join us.
Today Vicki met two other ladies from the small group for lunch in one of their homes. She set up this meeting so that they could learn from one another about how to care for a parent with failing health—something all three are facing.
Some of the most important things a small group experiences happen outside the weekly meeting. It’s all about caring, growing in friendships, and have fun together.
I think I’ll call some of the guys and meet them for breakfast. I love small groups. I have made my closest friendships in small groups.
What does it mean for you right now to genuinely care for others? How can you grow in relationship with them?