This is the fourth in a shortish series (though started in September!) that has come out of a recent discussion amongst our cell leaders and pastors on how you would know if your small group was actually living out its values. We have five values as a church. These are the values that we know drive our behaviour as a church and help us to work out what we should do (and what we shouldn’t do!).
As I said in the second post of this series the place in which values are rooted and grow are in our small groups (which we call cell groups). As a cell group learns to embed the values in their cell we find that the impact isn’t only in that group but also in the life of the wider church.
Our second value is Becoming Disciples. By this we mean that every person is able to grow as a follower of Jesus; every person is not only uniquely gifted and valued by God but everyone can grow in their relationship with God. This is done not through making an effort but rather through the disciplines of Discipleship; learning how to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Becoming a disciple of Jesus is not about memorising the rules of the game or of church but rather learning, training to become a follower of Jesus. As such this requires not effort but training, learning a new way of living life based around that of Jesus.
One of the great places that we can train is in our small groups amongst a group of people who are rooting for us, amongst a group of people who are fellow pilgrims walking the Jesus Way. This is important because too often discipleship has been made out to be something one does on ones own – reading the bible, praying on your own, making more effort in different areas. But in the bible we so often see Jesus sending out his disciples in 2s or 3s. We see him taking Peter, James and John with him to learn or the larger group. Much of the best learning can be done in groups.
So, for us cell groups have proven essential to grow in. Cells become a safe place to try new things, Cells become a place where we can begin to take off our masks and begin to share with one another. This is always a process as a person needs to know that it is a safe place to share.
There are a number of ways in which we can see that this is happening in a cell group.
One of the basic ways that we see this happening is that people turn up! It may be a basic one but we find that a life-giving group is one where people want to be. People, if they want to be there, will often re-arrange things to be there (not always possible but often happens).
Leaders of groups set the standard of sharing. Generally we have found that people will share to the depth of the leaders of the group. If the leaders only share at a shallow level then others will remain shallow in their sharing.
Having a focus in the group on the practical implications of what we are studying. What real difference will it make if we took the words of Jesus and tried to live by them? It’s all too easy to focus on
Asking one another how God is challenging us at the moment and being able to share the real struggles in our lives rather than giving the “right” answer.
Encouraging one another so that instead of feeling that we never “make it”, rather we feel uplifted by others and that we all stumble as we grow in faith – that’s the way we grow and learn.
I have been delighted to see more and more people start to take their faith seriously and see real growth as they have got stuck into cell and been challenged and encouraged to take their faith seriously.
Do share other ways in which you have found that a small group has had a positive impact on your being able to do new things or being involved.
Other posts in the series: