Yes, I used strong language in the title of this post. No, I don’t hate missional small groups. What I hate are small group mission projects. Why? Because they’re PROJECTS.
What’s a project? It’s a short-term activity designed to accomplish a goal. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with a small group mission project; after all, they serve people who are in need. However, they tend to have a tragic side effect: a sense of being “done.”
Are people meant to be projects? Are people meant to be goals? Is mission ever truly “done”? No, no, and uh … NO!
When small groups do mission projects, they can easily miss the point of mission: relationship. Jesus didn’t die for projects or goals. He died so people could experience relationship with God. When done right, mission not only offers people a relationship with God, but it also creates relationships between those on mission and those being served.
Seldom will a person become a Christ-follower because a group of people mowed their lawn once. Seldom will someone choose to surrender to Christ because someone painted their fence one weekend. Most people will follow Jesus because they saw Christ’s love being lived out over time by people they know.
If your small group is going to be on mission, try not to just identify projects. Try instead to identify people you can get to know. Serve them, love them, help them, do life with them.
Sounds a lot riskier than just mowing a lawn, doesn’t it? You’re right. It is risky. Jesus took the greatest risk of all by dying for our sins; I think we can risk the messiness of relationships with unpredictable people. The sterile nature of “projects” is just not risky enough for my taste.
Okay, my rant is done … but our mission is not.