MISSIONAL SECRET: We don’t get to reproduce anything we want to reproduce. We reproduce who we are.
At Christmas, I gathered with several different limbs of my FAMILY Tree. It was wonderful! We exchanged gifts. We valued each other. We shared our favorite special dishes that are only available at this time of year. We cheered for and against each other’s favorite teams, (oh yes, trash talk is part of our love language). We were even entertained by the crazy uncles amongst us. We went to Christmas Eve services. We recognized that the ADVENT/COMING of Jesus into our lives is pure Grace to be treasured. It is family tradition.
Here is what I noticed looking around at this year’s family gatherings. Everyone of them was bigger with more people present than the previous year’s gathering. There were newborn babies. There were new people who married into the family. There were a few potential spouses. Then there was the a group of newbies who didn’t have a better place to go and came along with one of the family. The family is constantly expanding.
I was amazed that we have more people every year — without planning meetings. There has never been a moment where the patriarch or matriarch gets everyone together and intentionally plans for how we are going to get more people in the family by next year’s Christmas celebration. I was never assigned by an elder of the family to have 4 kids for the sake of the family.
Families grow naturally. We raise our kids, and somehow they grow up, get married and multiply from generation to generation. Biologically speaking, God provided an incredibly productive, reproducible and sustainable system through that produces a lot of fruit.
If Family grows naturally, God’s family grows . . . SUPERNATURALLY! God intends for His people to multiply supernaturally. How does that happen? We have to intentionally transfer supernatural capital to the next generation. How does that happen? Basically, we need to do 3 things really well:
1. We need to transfer essential INFORMATION.
2. We need to provide role models for IMITATION.
3. We need to provide opportunities for INNOVATION.
Before we go any further, I would make the case that SMALL GROUPS are the only vehicle that can accomplish all 3 of these important objectives.
INFORMATION is transferred through teaching, conversation and relationship. (HEARING – Romans 10:17 “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.” NASB)
IMITATION is an opportunity for the student to see the INFORMATION lived out in someone’s life. (SEEING – 1 Corinthians 11:1 “You should imitate me, as I imitate Christ.” NLT)
INNOVATION is when the teacher deploys the student to go do ministry. (BEING – 2 Timothy 2 “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men and women who will be able to teach others also.” ELT)
Supporting the earlier statement that SMALL GROUPS are the only vehicle that can provide all three of these essential elements may be intuitive, but let’s consider why I would make such a claim.
Information transfer is essential. We can do that through all kinds of media: podcasts, books, sermons, seminars, daily devotions. Effective preaching, for example, is absolutely crucial — and it must be an ongoing high priority for the church. Small Groups helps the information become personal in a two-way conversation.
Imitation validates the information. When students know their leaders closely enough to see the “taught” principles demonstrated by their leaders, they SEE how to make the principles work.
Innovation empowers the next generation of leaders. We all want to multiply our influence. If we know those we lead well enough, we know how and when to release them into ministry assignments of their own.
As great as our teaching pastors are, they cannot personally know everyone in the church well enough to do all 3 of these tasks for everyone. Families grow and multiply because everyone does what comes naturally. Small Groups give us the extended family model through which the church multiplies SUPERNATURALLY!
May God give us the wisdom to create Small Groups that reproduce leaders who multiply mission.