10 Ways to Keep the Passion in Your Small Group Ministry

Passion: a relationship full of love and passion will go on forever. Right? Reality shows tell us that statement just might not be true. Passion can fade very quickly. Every successful relationship works at keeping that passion alive. The same is true in ministry. In the 14 years that I have been at Saddleback Church and the 29 total years I have been in full-time ministry, I have learned passion is the common trait that keeps you pressing on through the hard times and sparking your imagination to dream about risking for God in the good times. Passion can’t be faked; it must be born out of the soul. So where is your passion? What keeps you in the game? Apply these ten and stay in the ministry game!

1. Dwell in the Word.

Colossians 3:16 (NIV) tells us: Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Dwell is to “live in” or “be at home.” It is a first nature, not a second nature. Not something left over after the day is done. What will help remind you to do this? Since it means to “be at home,” maybe a simple reminder when you walk in your home. Are you a morning person or night person? What can remind you to dwell at your best time of the 24-hour cycle? Just one verse can give you a start to snuggling up to that verse and dwell in it throughout the day. Dwelling in the Word lays the foundation for passion in your ministry.

2. Obey the second greatest commandment.

John 13:34 tells us: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. Be nice. Be civil. Be kind. You can love those that you don’t agree with. You may not see eye to eye on doctrine or theology, but you can still love them. Loving is building a bridge so that Christ can walk across it. When you express love, it builds passion in your heart. People can wear passion down. When you love, it strengthens and builds your passion.

3. Forget the past.

Philippians 3:13-14 tells us: Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. One thing Paul does, “forgetting the past.” Dwelling on the past will keep us from reaching out to those things Christ places in our lives as we press towards the prize! Dwelling on the past instead of the Word stifles the passion in us. That creative part in you that the Holy Spirit sparks for the next big thing in your ministry is lost when you focus on the past. We will always make mistakes. Learn from them to achieve your goal. Forget the past and stay focused on the present, and you will keep your passion on track.

4. Endure through the hard times.

Hebrews 5:8 tells us: Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered. No pain, no gain. Christ learned obedience through His suffering. Don’t let the pain in your life go to waste. God doesn’t waste a hurt. He uses what the enemy wanted to kill your passion to spark a new ministry passion. Enduring deflects the killer of your passion and preserves it.

5. Examine your efforts.

Galatians 6:4-5 tells us: Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. You can only do what God designed for you to do. Which is more valuable, the original or the copy? Of course, the original! So be the original God created you to be. When you compare, you let your passion leak out. Comparing takes you to one of two sins. You either think you are better—pride. Or you think you are worse—envy. Neither is good. Look at what you are doing, not comparing, and your passion will grow.

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Steve Gladen
Steve Gladen has been on staff at Saddleback Church since 1998; he currently oversees the strategic launch and development of small groups at Saddleback as well as the staff of the Small Group Network. He has focused on small groups in several churches for almost 20 years. Steve oversees 2,500 adult small groups at Saddleback and loves seeing a big church become small through true community developed in group life. He has co-authored several books, including 250 Big Ideas for Small Groups, Building Healthy Small Groups in Your Church, Small Groups With Purpose, Leading Small Groups With Purpose, and Don't Lead Alone. Steve does consulting and seminars championing small groups and what it means to be Purpose Driven in a small-group ministry.