When my wife and I moved back to Indianapolis, we knew that being part of a community was a “must.” However, we knew that our expectations for leading a Small Group were going to require a commitment from us and those who joined our group.
As a leader, you have the ability to create a culture for those in your group. What are the basic commitments that you want to characterize yourself and your group members (whether or not you formalize these through a Small Group covenant)? We adopted five commitments for our group members to strive for as we began to live life together:
1. Being Theologically-Minded
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable… that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Theology has become a bad word to many people. We’ve adopted an unhealthy idea that theology is only for pastors or theologians. However, theology is simply the study of God. As Christians, we are called to be a people that study and grow in our knowledge of who God is and what we should do in light of these truths. Our group should be a place where theology isn’t discarded but is praised as good for all believers.
2. Praying Fervently
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing…” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).
Why does prayer matter? Jesus was the only perfect man who walked the earth, and he still saw it necessary to pray. As humans, we must be dependent on God. Prayer is what dependence on God looks like in the life of a Christian. As a community of broken people, we must be in constant prayer for our community and church family.
With this in mind, we wanted to use texting, Facebook, and our group time as ways to regularly share requests and pray for each other.
3. Missional Together
“Go therefore and make disciples…” (Matthew 28:18-20).
We wanted to be a part of a group that could live on mission together!
- If a member of our group went on a mission trip, the expectation would be that the rest of our group would support that individual in any way that they could.
- If a member was sharing the gospel with others, we wanted our group to be praying that God would open doors and produce fruit in their hearts.
4. Being Culturally Aware
“So [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there” (Acts 17:16-31).
There are many different waves of philosophy and cultural trends competing with the glory of Christ in our culture. We are to be Christians that are in the world but not of the world. This means that we can’t allow our focus on Christian fellowship to make us unaware of the world around us. We hoped to have a group that engaged in the culture with a biblical worldview, and wasn’t afraid to speak life into any cultural setting.
5. Being Known (Friendship)
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
One of the worst things we could do as a group is to meet every other week but be completely disconnected from each other’s daily lives. The only way to avoid this is by building friendships. I was determined to have everyone share their story at some point in the first year of meeting. I hoped that people could share their testimonies and things that have shaped them in their lifetime. This would be just a start in getting to know one another.
It Takes Work
As my wife and I made these five commitments, we knew that it would take work. However, we have realized that it’s better to set an expectation early than to blindly hope we fall into these commitments naturally.
Revisiting these commitments periodically between ourselves as co-leaders and with those in our group has created great check-points: to see where we’re growing and where we can improve. Whether you’re starting a new group or have a seasoned group, clear commitments are helpful to foster a community that finds hope together.