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Cultivating a Heart for Others: Recovering your Missional Edge

There are three patterns of a healthy group: Connecting with one another (the RELATIONAL pattern), Changing to be like Christ (the GROWTH pattern), and Cultivating a heart for others (the MISSIONAL pattern). That last pattern is the most neglected in the typical small group. Many groups do the relationships pretty well and they might even experience some spiritual growth. But they often forget about the most important biblical pattern of a healthy group. So how can you tell if you’ve lost that “missional feeling?” Here are four tips you have a problem:
  1. Listen to the prayer requests. Are they are all about personal stuff but never about the friend or neighbor who needs Christ?
  2. Does your group get excited about fun social stuff but never serve? If you can plan parties and picnics but not service opportunities you have probably lost your missional edge.
  3. Does your group likes to study Bible but doesn’t focus on how to share Biblical truths with others outside the group? Do you study for the sake of personal improvement but not to pass along to others what you’ve learned?
  4. Listen for complaint. If your group complains about how messed up world is or what they don’t like about the church service you know you need to work on the missional edge. The world has always been broken. Our conversations should be about how to expand the Gospel message not what’s wrong in the world!
If you want to fix the problem start with number one: work on your prayers. Encourage your prayer time to be focused on lost friends and family. Spend more time praying for missionaries, mission trips, and opportunities to share the Gospel. Have each person name one person they feel spiritually burdened for. If you recover the missional pattern in your prayers you will soon see it come alive in your group!
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Bill Search describes himself as a “thirty-something minister whose job it is to make a big church feel small.” Bill writes a popular small group blog and authored a book entitled Simple Small Groups: A User-Friendly Guide for Small Group Leaders.