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Last night 3 people split the Powerball lottery winnings that totaled over 430 million dollars. That’s just over140 million dollars each. These three people have had their lives changed forever not only financially, but also in terms what options they have in front of them socially and vocationally. I have put a great deal of thought into what life would look like for me if I were to stumble into some kind of windfall financially like the lottery, or inheritance. What would I want to do for a living? What would I invest my time and money in? It helps me decide if what I am doing now is what I should be doing based on gifts, calling, and passion. I don’t have a solid answer that would work as a good example, so let’s just say for now my dream job is to open up an Ice Cream food truck.
So I win the lottery, and now I can realize my dream of being the “Ice Cream Food Truck King of OKC”. It sounds glamorous doesn’t it? I get my 10 food trucks bought, I buy crazy advertising spots on TV, Magazines, Radio and Newspapers. I’ve got 10’s of thousands of people chomping at the bit to buy my delicious ice cream all over the city. I have bought billboards that have maps showing where my trucks will be posted up. I have virtually put all of my eggs in the Ice Cream Dream basket and tomorrow is opening day. Now imagine in my fantasy Ice Cream King story that when I did the purchasing for the trucks, that all I bought was……Vanilla. I filled all 10 of my ice cream trucks with just vanilla ice cream. Really bad vanilla ice cream too. It’s best choice, fat and sugar free, flavor free vanilla ice cream. Also a week before I open, I went into my walk-in freezer and took all the lids off my sad flavorless ice cream and let those nasty tasting ice crystals form all over the whole batch. So I have horribly flavored, icy, nasty, vanilla ice cream going out all over the city in my trucks tomorrow.
So now it’s opening day, and people are flocking to my trucks after lunch time and what happens? Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, vine, and all the other social media outlets explode with contempt, disgust, and outrage about my crappy, nasty, icy, vanilla ice cream and I’m totally hosed. The damage is done, it’s beyond repair, and my dream of being the Ice Cream King of OKC is officially and permanently dashed. So you are asking yourself now…..what does this have to do with community group leadership?
Let me explain.
This morning I felt the heaviest of weights as it relates to what we are all doing each week in our homes. It occurred to me that the church has put all of it’s respective eggs (as it relates to discipleship, care, evangelism, and community) in the Community Group basket. My very next thought was one of excitement: the people are finally responding to the call to be part of this and groups are growing like crazy, and attendance is as high as it’s ever been. We are pushing 70% participation downtown. 70% of the people that walk through the doors at 1104 North Robinson on Sunday morning, also then during the week walk through one of our doors. This is incredible! It was. Until I had my next thought…….what if when they show up they are getting really bad icy vanilla ice cream; and even worse than that was my next thought. What if they get this crappy excuse for ice cream, and don’t know the difference between this, and Ben and Jerry’s because they have never had ice cream and just settle in and start to like it. (I know…I’m done with the ice cream analogy now.)
So this is what I was thinking this morning…..
We are blessed beyond imagination because of the quality of leadership we have in all of you. All of you are top shelf. I want you to realize that I am praying for each and every one of you daily. I know I just took a burden that was on my shoulders – and without permission put it on yours J (Not very friendly I know.) I did it because I love each one of you, and you are in the position you are because your hub leader, me, and every pastor and elder believe in and love you. We have put all of the people in our care that we are going to answer to Jesus for…..in your care because we believe in you.
The reality is most of you are probably killing it, maybe even all of you are. The other reality is that this is so important, and such a big deal – it HAS to be so. Unequivocally and without a shadow of a doubt it must be so. The biggest truth is that if it’s not happening, it’s because I haven’t resourced you enough. It’ll be because I have done a poor job of setting expectations. So I’d like to briefly talk through what it means to Love God, Love People, and Push Back Darkness in your group each week. Not only to clearly communicate expectations, but to define a win as well:
Love God – How we study scripture together. The importance we place on it. Can we answer hard questions from scripture? Can we discern what the text and the sermon from that week mean in our context practically? What emphasis do we place on prayer? What do our prayer models look like?
Love People – Are we leading a participatory discussion, or talking the entire time? Do we teach the people in our groups to pray? Do we confess generally about being sinful or specific sins so that God’s plan for repentance and healing can be carried out? Do we care for our people and interact with them throughout the week? Are we involved in each others lives beyond a day and time on a calendar? Do we teach our people HOW to pray through different prayer models? Do you feel like you have permission to say “I don’t know”, rather than give out bad information?
Push Back Darkness – Are we actually taking the time to do what we are discussing in our groups. Do we teach the people in our groups what evangelism looks like? How to do it? Do we engage our neighbors, co-workers and friends not only collectively but personally as well?
What I’m not saying: You have to be perfect in all of these areas.
What I am saying: We want to recognize what our strengths and weaknesses are so we can be working on all of this. There are people in your groups with specific gifts that are to be used towards these ends. You don’t have to do it all!
So I’m proposing a few things to start a dialog and discussion about this.
1. I am going to start writing curriculum for our group discussions again for awhile, and will submit them to you by Sunday at 2pm – starting this Sunday.
2. On Sunday I am also going to send you some prayer models that you can work in and out of your group times so they can be diverse and not get stagnant.
3. I want you to start thinking now about what you are doing that is working, good and beneficial for the people in your group – and start putting together ideas and sharing them with your hub leader and myself.
4. I want all of you to be part of this process – so speak up!
5. Continue to pray for the people in your groups.
Ok, I know that is a lot. It means even more that you took the time to read this mini novella. I just want to make sure we are on the same page, and all singing from the same sheet of music. I also want to make sure the 700 or so people showing up at our homes each week aren’t getting nasty, icy, tasteless vanilla and settling for eating it up because they don’t know any better (I know, I broke my promise but I couldn’t resist one more).
The reality is we have won the lottery, and it Jesus. Let’s make sure our people meet Him each week. We have the gospel, let’s make sure it’s centered in what we are doing. We have the Holy Spirit, let’s make sure He is active in our lives, the people in our groups lives, and during our group time. We have the Father, and He has provided all of our gifts – let’s make sure we not only use them, but teach others to as well. We can’t just say we love God, love people, and push back darkness – it has be happening in the way we walk out our collective call as community group leaders. Love you all so much.