Missions and Small Groups
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Small Group Missions Here and Now 

Small Group Network- http://www.smallgroups.com/

December 2000  

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 action. 

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 attend." 

Reproducing Disciples

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:

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Pray regularly for that missionary family

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Invite your adopted missionary to speak to your group on furlough

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Collect an offering for your missionary

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Visit your missionary on the field, offering to serve in any way possible.

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Serving Until He Comes

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:

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To minister to God

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To minister to one another

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To minister to the world

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.