For over twenty years I have used the tag line—“Changing the World, One Person at a Time”. Twenty-Two years ago, I wanted to start a church that would make a difference in the world. However, I knew I would only accomplish change the world if I worked on changing the lives of individuals. I had watched too many pastors trying to change their world through preaching to congregations! There is nothing wrong with preaching to a large group of people. But I knew people who were changed for eternity, were changed because another human being had gotten close enough to touch them.
People change when someone gets close enough to know them so they can trust that person enough to allow them to “speak” into their lives.
People change when someone gets close enough to know them so they can trust that person enough to allow them to “speak” into their lives. Often this occurs without even a word being spoken. Pastors need to get close enough to people in the context of relationships to know what makes them hurt, to know how they think, to know what they value. This happens best in the context of small groups.
Life-changing small groups have a few things in common:
Leaders of life-changing small groups are vulnerable. Change only comes through trust, and trust is founded upon vulnerability. In the context of this small group, the small group leader must first be vulnerable with those in the group if they expect those in the group to be vulnerable with each other. Pastors need to lead small groups of people so they can earn the ability to speak into their lives. People in the congregation will become disciples of Jesus Christ as they rub close enough to mature believers that they can catch what it means to act like Christ. More is caught than taught in discipleship. The pastor must set the example of leading a small group where the goal is to look at Christ and then see how far each of us falls short. Then together we figure out how to conform our behavior to that of Christ through the power of His Spirit.
Leaders of life-changing small groups build transparent relationships with lost people. Again, the pastors cannot preach it without practicing it in the close proximity to people. A pastor must get to know lost people in a way, that allows them to understand why and how the lost do as they do. They pastor must get to know these people as friends with no strings attached. These lost people cannot be his “projects”. But, he must learn to love them where they are. Christ continued to love lost people exactly where they were. He didn’t expect any sinner to clean up their life before he would have fellowship with them. Their lives changed AFTER Jesus got close enough to them for them to know him.
Leaders of life-changing small groups love people right were they are. When pastors love lost people as they are, then God will be able to work through their redemptive relationship to build trust. People will not trust the message until they trust the messenger. For this to happen, Christians must build healthy enough relationships with lost people for them to trust. Christians must portray their lives as they really are, sometimes painful and sometimes joyful. Christians must be real; and most of all, the pastor must be real with lost people if he is to be a leader in the congregation.
Lost people will only be introduced to Christ when we stop preaching at them and start relating to them.
Lost people will only be introduced to Christ when we stop preaching at them and start relating to them. Disciples will only be built into the image of Jesus Christ as we build healthy relationships in close proximity with each other. Lives will be changed for all of eternity to the extent that we can build healthy and close relationships with each other, beginning with the pastor. The world will only be changed as the lives in it are changed. That is what get’s me up in the morning and it is what allows me to pillow my head at night a contented man. Lives have been changed and the world is a different place because of it.