Small Group Missions Here and Now
Small Group Network- http://www.smallgroups.com/
Iím a full-time missionary. Iíve
dedicated my life to learn another language and culture. Two of my three
daughters were born in Ecuador. Yet, when I returned to North America for two
years of study in 1995, I was amazed to discover that the mission field had
decided to live in the U.S.
In my home state of California, for example, the white population is now officially a minority race. Los Angeles, like many urban centers, is now brown and black, rather than lily white. Even the suburbs have been transformed. Entire suburban neighborhoods are now dominated by Vietnamese, Armenians, Chinese and Koreans. Mayan Indians have recreated urban versions of their villages in the Guatemalan highlands.
We in the small group movement have an incredible opportunity to practice missions right here in the U.S.
Open Your Heart
"Find a need and meet it" is the
motivating force behind the successful small groups at the Yoido Full Gospel
Churchóthe largest church in the history of Christianity. Armed with this
principle the small groups at Yoido Full Gospel Church have skyrocketed to
25,000. How can this principle be applied in the U.S.? What are the needs of the
growing ethnic population?
One of the greatest needs of those
immigrating to the U.S. is to experience a sense of belonging. People from other
cultures often feel unsettled, inefficient, and out of place. Theyíve left the
familiar to experience the unknown.
These people are prime targets of Godís
love. And there is no better place to experience Godís love than in a small
group. Allow your small group to be used by God to minister to these people.
Become a home away from home to them, allowing them to see Christís love in
This is more easily said than done. It
requires sacrifice to reach out to those of a different culture, race and
language. Yet, I believe that youíll find that being Godís instrument to
reach out to needy people will far outweigh the temporal discomforts. God will
both fulfill the needs of those you invite, as well as revitalize your group.
People from other cultures are normally very
family oriented. Instead of hearing the dreaded NO to your invitation to attend
your small group, get ready to hear a relieved, "Yes, Iíd love to
Think long term. Perhaps the person you invite will eventually start his own group among his own nationality.
I recently visited one dominantly white
suburban church that was transformed by befriending an Asian immigrant in one of
the small groups. When this Malaysian received Jesus in 1991, he couldnít
contain his excitement and soon began inviting fellow immigrants to form small
groups. When I visited the church, there were more than 200 small groups, of
which 100 were made up of Asians!
Small groups are leader breeders. Effective small group leaders look beyond attendance and concentrate on making disciples. Prepare that new person to eventually lead his or her own small group, thus continuing the mission outreach of your small group.
Other Mission Projects
I know from personal experience that many church-wide mission programs are dry and stale. Each year the same tired missionary machinery comes out of the closet for another mission program. As a small group, you can help personalize and revitalize the mission program in your church. The first thing you can do as a group is to adopt a missionary or missionary family. Then begin to:
Join God's Purpose
God is a
missionary God. Jesus came to seek and to save those who are lost. Mark Conner,
in his excellent book Transforming Your Church, highlights three purposes
for Christís church:
The author goes on to say, "If we are
only here for the first two reasons, then we might as well go to heaven right
now. . . In heaven, there will be no more evangelism. While weíre on earth, we
should mix with the unsaved and cultivate friendships with them. Our life goal
should be to go to heaven and take as many people with us as possible."
If your group only exists to fellowship with
God and one another, perhaps itís time for God to rapture your group to
heaven. Youíll enjoy far better communion over there.
For now, God has a missionary purpose for your small group right here on planet earth. Make the most of it until He comes again.