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Pastor's Column

Small Group – Large Gain

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16 ESV)

  Thursday morning, I wake up around 5:30am and get ready to meet with a small group of disciples who are committed to following Jesus. We start with a song, a prayer, a scripture, a reading or some combination of these. We then each begin to share the state of our soul. We share what it has been like for each one of us to walk in the faith throughout the week. We share struggles and victories, sins and encounters with saints, dreams and desires, and finally we close by praying for each other. It does not take more than an hour.

  When I reflect on my walk as a Christian, it is in these small groups that I have experienced the largest gain. It has been when I have been willing to really open up about who I am that I have come closer to who Jesus is. It is when I have confessed my biggest sins that I have received the greatest amounts of forgiveness. It is when others have shared their deepest hurts that I have known compassion in the highest form. It is in these places, these people, that I have found the presence of Christ.

  I have been a part of many of these types of groups throughout my years, although they have often gone by various names. They have always been more than a book study. There is a way you can hide if you only focus on material. I highly value these types of groups too; it is just that Jesus had a model. The way Jesus did discipleship required an opening of more than just the mind. There is soul work that must be accomplished.

  Here are a few things I have learned over the years. Do not offer your opinion unless asked. Learn to listen without saying a word. Trust that there is one in the room who you cannot see. The Spirit of the Living God is present. Trust God to both listen and then speak into the soul that is open to healing. Do not judge others. Leave that job to Jesus. Listen, love, and pray.

  The hardest part for me in this season of life is that I want more people to experience what it is to be a part of this type of small group. We get comfortable and we forget that there are others who could benefit from learning to live in a close Christian community. I must be willing to sacrifice safety so someone else can experience freedom.

  I still love big venues, Sunday sermons, and all the worship hype that goes with a rocking praise band. But that guy, you know, Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. He knew that the largest gains would come from the smallest groups.

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