Christian Swartz got it right
I re-discovered a really powerful quote on page 32 of Natural Church Development by Christian Swarz...
“Holistic small groups are the natural place for Christians to learn to serve others—both inside and outside the group—with their spiritual gifts. The planned multiplication of small groups is made possible through the continual development of leaders as a by-product of the normal group life. The meaning of the term ‘discipleship’ becomes practical in the context of holistic small groups: the transfer of life, not rote learning of abstract concepts.”
A number of things jumped out at me after I read it a couple of times:
HSG's are a natural place to learn to serve others with spiritual gifts. So often, church members take a class on spiritual gifts and it's based on personal observation and areas of interest or comfort. Practicing those gifts and refining their use to be powerful for God is not easily done after the class is concluded.
Multiplication is made possible through the continual development of leaders as a by-product of normal group life. Wow. Just read that a couple of times and let it seep into your heart, not just your mind! Normal HSG life should produce leaders, not followers. This undoubtedly requires that every member look in the mirror and see a minister, not a member of a group.
Discipleship is the transfer of life, not the rote learning of abstract concepts. Couldn't have stated it better myself! Life transfer requires one-on-one mentoring and members taking personal responsibility for other members. The leader of a group cannot disciple everyone, and it cannot be done just in the meetings.
Lifeway is sponsoring a free webinar Summit next month in Nashville and bringing me in as well as a number of other voices from the small group world. Please pray that I will be able to communicate the content of Swarz's paragraph above powerfully. There's so much consumer-based small group "ministry" in America going on that most can't even get their head around what the priesthood of all believers looks like any more, let alone lead a church into it through their small group ministry!