What does all this have to do with higher expectations? I think we need to not only help people find their jobs, their callings, and their gifts but I think we need to expect them to use them.
I think we, as churches, need to be providing better discipleship and more opportunities for people to use their gifts. We need to break down our bodies not just into small groups but into small groups in which people are held accountable to lead, to teach, to help.
The culture we have created makes it too easy for people to not do anything. Our staffed pastors organize the classes and prepare the curriculum. Our "safe" workbooks keep us focused and on task. We have become dependent on "church leadership." (Again not bashing or blaming since I fall in that category.)What about the person in that small group whose gift is to lead, that has a deep God given desire to get the group together? What about the young man called to teach sitting there reciting someone else's words and someone else's questions?
Are we robbing them of their opportunity to practice their gifts? Could we be doing a better job of equipping every saint to do the work of The Lord?
I think maybe so.
Let me illustrate. If you are in the military you have a commanding officer over a small group of people. Within that group everyone has assignments and the each person has to do their job for their unit to function. Not everyone's job is the same and not everyone is equal within the unit, but everyone has a place. The people in each unit know each other and their lives depend on each other. Imagine this: You have one commander over thousands of people and almost no one under them empowered to do much of anything. The commander is desperately trying to get people to do their jobs and everyone hears and understands that the jobs need to be done but no one is sure what they might be good at or where they could be the most helpful. Do you imagine much would get done under the second model? I doubt it.
Human nature proves very consistent in that if we think someone else will do it, we won't; furthermore we will usually assume someone else will do it better than us making us feel we just aren't good for much. The result? Loneliness.
Back to expectations. God created each and every single person in the Body of Christ to have a purpose therein. Not just the leaders or the super volunteers. Why did He do so? I suspect because God knew us well enough to know that purpose in us creates personal investment.
Can you imagine a church in which each person is personally invested in creating disciples? Personally invested in the people around them on a daily basis?
When people find purpose they lose loneliness and then they can help others do the same.
I don't want you to think this is a rant against big churches. It's not. I do know for a fact that smaller groups are more likely to create mentors, more likely to have people volunteer, more likely to have members that feel part of a community and always give more generously. That said I think the more believers we can be connected to the better. However I know of very few churches, big or small, who aren't doing small groups. We know they're important. So back to the main question: How can we do better?
How can we in our churches, big or small, better utilize our small groups to disciple, to equip, to help people find their purpose?
I have some ideas, but first I want to hear yours. Don't forget our rules!