So far we have looked at half of our eight core values. And whether you have noticed it or not, there is a flow to how these core values are structured. We tried to envision the way a person would engage with our church from their first time as a visitor through, Lord willing, many years as a member.
So our first core value is the first thing we want people to notice – our commitment to the Bible as the ultimate authority. Next, we hope people will see that our commitment to Christ as Lord of our life is reflected in how we preach through books of the Bible. From there we want to make sure people see an intentional focus on church membership, our third core value. And it is from that third core value that our fourth one is birthed: discipleship. Simply put, it places discipleship on the foundation of church membership. Not the other way around.
But the logical next question would be: How? How does Verdae Pres want to disciple its members? How does someone who has recently come to faith in Christ begin growing in Christ? And how would someone who has walked with Christ for an entire lifetime both grow in Christ and help others grow in Christ at the same time?
Our answers to this question are core values #5 and #6 – Small Groups and Counseling. We will look at the counseling component more in depth next week. But today’s blog is all about how small groups are an essential aspect of our member’s discipleship.
I have enjoyed asking people what they think about when they hear of small groups. There have been dozens of different responses that I have heard, and that number is only limited because I’ve only asked a few dozen people! Everyone has a slightly different idea of what a small group might look like. And that is great. We actually embrace that.
Our desire is not to create a “one-size-fits-all” approach to small groups. Sure, that can be easier to roll out and easier to explain. And if we were trying to create a program right now to fit a few hundred people it might be necessary. But we aren’t! Rather, we are trying to meet our members exactly where they are in life.
A weekly Thursday night time for Bible study and fellowship might be the perfect thing for some of our members. So we want to provide everything that group needs to do those Thursday nights well. But we recognize that might not work for everyone. So our challenge is not figuring out how to fit future members into that time slot. Our challenge is finding a new way to meet our new members right where they are. We recognize that this may take more effort and time on the front end. But we really believe that the result will be more effective discipleship. And that is worth the extra effort!
But this takes a commitment from our members as well. We ask each of our members to make an effort in two places. First, we ask that our members grow in their engagement with our Sunday worship services. Second, we ask that our members get plugged into one additional aspect of our church life. And we recognize that this second aspect of church life may be something that doesn’t even exist yet. So if it doesn’t, then we ask that they help us figure out a brand new small group that can meet them right where they are.
This requires time, patience, and commitment from our members. And we are aware of that. But once again, discipleship is something that rests on church membership – not the other way around. The payoff, as we have already found, is that these new small groups are more effective at meeting our members where they are. And that is because the ideas come from the members themselves.
There is one more benefit too! Once we have a new small group made up of new members then we have an additional place to invite visitors. Sometimes visitors feel most comfortable going to worship first. But many times a visitor feels more comfortable going to a small group with a friend. Especially one who is plugged into something that they really value. So the additional benefit is that these small groups serve an essential role in our church’s discipleship and in evangelism.
After all, what is the calling of a disciple? It is to go forward, and make disciples!
“Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations.’” – Matthew 28:18-19a