Indeed Jesus taught the masses. He preached before great crowds and provided them with miraculous signs, but in the end most of them abandoned him. It was in a much smaller, much more intimate setting that He did His most effective work with people. He called to himself twelve very ordinary men, and in training them, equipping them and sending them He turned the world upside down. We pay great attention to the words of Jesus; His teaching, and rightly so, but I believe that we could and should pay much more attention to how Jesus went about His ministry…His modus operandi…how He did things, which is just as divine.
In our churches we want to see big crowds, a show of our success. A full building on Sunday morning must be a testament to our “getting things right”, executing God’s will for us in the proper manner. Of course there is nothing wrong with a full building, as long we have as our desire the glory and honor that only God deserves, and not what we think brings glory and honor to our own name. Jesus shows us that the best method, His method, of making disciples though is in a much smaller context, in small groups, where one on one attention is possible. He gives us the model of “making disciples who make disciples”.
It is on this foundation that I am declaring November to be “Discipleship Group Month”. Back in 2012 we embarked on a program here at St. John’s to intentionally develop and grow small Discipleship Groups. Groups were to meet at least monthly for a time of fellowship, prayer, Bible study and food. We have had some success in this effort in that we have a number of healthy and active groups meeting regularly, but overall the momentum has tailed off in the past year or two. Now, beginning this November and continuing on as long as the Lord blesses our endeavor, we will promote, prop-up and expand our Discipleship Group Ministry. Existing groups will be supported, encouraged and equipped. New groups will be forming with the goal that all of the members and friends of St. John’s Lutheran Church get involved. Is that possible? Perhaps not with man, but with God all things are possible (See Mark 10:27…part of the Gospel reading from a couple of weeks ago).
Our Ministry Coordinator Karen and Schatz and I will be in contact with many of you in the coming days and weeks. We will be looking to encourage the groups that already are up and running to be focused and have a more outward, evangelistic, outlook, inviting folks from outside our congregation and especially outside the Church to be our guests. The hope and prayer is that some might join in as regulars and our groups and church might grow. We want to keep the focus small so that might mean a growing group splits into two. What a wonderful problem to have! At the same time we will encourage those who are not yet involved to jump in. Groups will be forming based along demographic and geographic, and common interest/experience lines. If you would like to form your own group…great! Just let me know about it, otherwise we will make every effort to plug you in where you might best fit.
What I ask of you is first and foremost to pray. Pray for this ministry, and pray that God keep our motives fixed on what He is doing and not on what we are doing. Pray that those outside of His kingdom of grace will be invited in, and respond positively through the power of the Holy Spirit. Then, keep an open mind and heart. When asked to consider taking part, or doing something little differently, pray that we all seek the Lord’s will above our own. Finally, grow in our love of God and love for His people; for all people. As we meet together our bonds with each other will tighten, and we will not only be Discipleship Groups but groups who support, love and care for one another.
Jesus has called us all to Himself, through the Gospel. He has also called us to be disciples, to learn and grow with Him. On top of that He is sending us out, with His Gospel, to make more disciples. We’re all in this together. We’re all in this with our Lord Jesus.