Your small group is destined to die a slow, complacent, even cordial death without direction. Good food and casual conversation might be staples of normal small group life, but they cannot be the substance. Too many groups meet week after week, month after month without any clear mandate, and therefore without any clarity whether or not they’re fulfilling their purpose or really accomplishing anything.
Chances are your small group isn’t even called a small group. You might be in a community group, city group, mission group, shepherd group, discipleship group, life group, or [fill in the blank] group. Regardless of what you call the group, you should be asking what defines that fellowship. Why is it worth spending all this time together? How do we know that we’re not wasting our Wednesday or Thursday evenings? Small groups need a vision.
For our purposes in this article, A vision is a statement of the functional purpose of your small group. Why do you have a small group? What specifically do you hope to accomplish? How are you carrying out the church’s mission? How will you know if your little community is making progress and bearing fruit? I have found that developing a vision has unified and inspired our group in really life-giving ways.
An Example Vision Statement
Before we look at the value of having a vision for life together or ask how to develop a vision for small group, let’s briefly look at an example vision statement. This might help make later points more concrete and understandable.
As a small group, our shared life and ministry will be marked by these six aims. I have added brief descriptions with each point to give you a better idea of what we mean.
1. Know and serve one another persistently. (1 Thessalonians 2.7–8″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>1 Thessalonians 2:7–8; Hebrews 3.12–13″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>Hebrews 3:12–13)
Week-in and week-out, we will work to know each other more and more deeply — sharing our hearts and lives, praying for one another, asking questions, and bearing each other’s burdens. We will be persistent learners of one another. And with everything we learn — good, bad, or otherwise — we will strive to love and serve one another — meeting each other’s needs, encouraging growth, and helping one another thrive.
2. Depend on the Lord prayerfully. (Philippians 4.6–7″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>Philippians 4:6–7; Hebrews 4.14–16″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>Hebrews 4:14–16)
Prayer will be the regular, visible engine of our community. We need God every hour, every minute of every hour, so prayer will be our means to everything. We will look to God for everything we need, never taking his provision for granted. When we’re alone and when we’re together, we will be a people of prayer — always adoring, always confessing, always thanking, always asking.
3. Meet God through his word faithfully and expectantly. (Psalm 19.9–11″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>Psalm 19:9–11; 2 Peter 1.3–4″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>2 Peter 1:3–4)
The Bible will play a central role in our community because it holds the words of life. We need those pages more than we need food, and there are always more riches to be seen, enjoyed, and applied in our lives. We read faithfully — meaning regularly and with the eyes of faith — and we read expectantly — anticipating God to speak and move each time we open his book.
4. Pursue disciples for Jesus boldly and globally. (Matthew 28:19–20)
Our commission from Jesus is clear: Go, and make disciples. God saved us in order to send us. We are lights in a world of darkness that is desperately in need. We are God’s chosen means of spreading good news and winning worship for himself in every corner of this earth. Therefore, we are to be bold where we are, and we are to be behind what God is doing among the nations. We will witness for Jesus where we are, and send and support witnesses where we are not.