Hi Small Group Leaders,
In a series of open letters over the summer I’m focusing on several small steps we’ll be taking this fall to mature and deepen how we do small groups, so that we can more effectively make disciples who make more disciples.
We are God’s family, loved and accepted by him, called to live life on mission for him in our world. Our mission is to make disciples who make disciples (i.e., make disciple-makers).
When we realize that our groups need more than good meetings and more from us than merely facilitating, that we need to see way beyond the meeting, and we are willing to experience some discomfort learning new ways of leading…well, that alone may be the biggest step of all.
But there are some small steps and practical things we can do to make disciple-makers.
Remember, this requires training and equipping, apprenticeship (another word for discipleship), and accountability.
Here’s one of the ways we will bring those things into our groups this fall: through the practice of a group “Rule of Life.”
A Rule of Life isn't really about rules but about practices that the Spirit uses to form us. They are almost always relational practices at their core. Think of prayer and Bible reflection—ways of communicating with God. Think of sharing your faith—a way of joining with God in his mission. These are relational practices.
The term “Rule of Life” goes back hundreds of years to the practices of some of history’s most impactful missional communities. A community's Rule of Life would include practices that members agreed to do together and alone, in community and in the world at large.
Some of you have been leading small groups long enough to have used a small group covenant along the way. It's similar to that. But while most small group covenants focus on things like coming prepared to the group and making the group time a priority (Connect), a Rule of Life focuses more on Deepen (personal) and Impact (Missional) spiritual practices that happen outside of the group meeting.
And while covenants are often put in a drawer and, at best, reviewed from time to time, the Rule of Life will be integrated into your group’s life together. At least once a month, every group will dedicate the group prayer time to talking and praying about how the practices are going in each other’s lives.
This is how you bring life outside the group into the group time. This is how you bring the kind of accountability and encouragement that’s needed into your group life. This is virtually missing in the current model of small groups.
A group Rule of Life alone won’t change things. What goes into the Rule matters. I’ll talk about that in my next letter.