By: Brett Eastman
Why leading a small group is not impossible with an extraordinary God
When you think of “mission,” do you envision taking God’s Word to people in remote places, like Africa or Asia? Do you imagine living a Spartan lifestyle, stripped of all the comforts of home? Do you think of abandoning friends, family, a successful career—giving up everything?
Most of us will never experience this type of mission, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have one. Our mission field begins where we live—in our families, on the job, with our neighbors, and, yes, even in our church.
Over the past year, our church, Saddleback, saw an incredible outpouring of God’s Spirit. Thousands of people were connected under the care of a shepherd. More than 400 small groups were launched in a 13-week period. Yet 50 percent of our church family still needs the care of a shepherd.
Maybe your church needs shepherds, too. God may be calling you to care for a circle of friends and help them fulfill God’s dream for their lives. When you touch the lives of others through an authentic relationship, you’re fulfilling Christ’s dream: that a shepherd would care for each of his sheep.
God’s not asking you to go to China for the rest of your life; he’s asking you to shepherd a group of friends for a few weeks. Small group leaders are people like you—burdened by busyness, unschooled in theology and the Bible, uncomfortable in the spotlight, and fearful of leading. You don’t have to be a spiritual giant, a Bible scholar, or even a great orator. All you need is a willing heart.
Scripture teaches that the Father looks across the earth and seeks those whose hearts are fully his. Ultimately, ordinary people are used by an extraordinary God to make difference for his purpose. Perhaps you are this ordinary person called to shepherd a few. As the acrostic HEART explains, to be a shepherd, all you need is a shepherd’s heart.
Hands. When your hands are open before God, he can use them. Are your hands open as you say, “Father, these are ordinary hands, but I want you to use them in this life to touch the life of another”?
Experience. As you experience life together in the context of community, God can show you how he’s designed you for ministry. Through community, you can discover your life mission, as well as how to reproduce your life in another. Have you had others point out abilities or gifts that would help you shepherd?
Availability. Are you willing to be used by God in a way you never thought you could be? You’ve been blessed in order to be a blessing in the lives of others. That’s the ultimate purpose and path of life. Are you willing to be available?
Reluctant. You’ll probably be reluctant on some level. Think about Moses. He had five reasons why he didn’t think he would be God’s man for the moment, but God said, “You are.” Also, remember Peter. Jesus reminded him three times to shepherd his sheep. People who are hesitant are sometimes the best candidates.
Teachable. Are you willing to listen to the still small voice of Jesus in your life—to move away from sin and move toward others? God wants people who are responsive to him.
Jesus looked over the multitude and saw that a shepherd was necessary for every sheep. His own small group is a model—not only for caring for sheep, but for cultivating an unlimited harvest of shepherds. Matthew 9:31 says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”
Are you willing to be sent out into the field?