In a classic scene in the movie, The Patriot, Mel Gibson as Benjamin Martin gives his sons shooting advice to save their brother, "Aim small, miss small." It is the pivotal point in the story where Benjamin transitions from disengagement in a great cause to full engagement.
In the story of the greatest cause in history, becoming and making disciples of Christ, many Christians are disengaged. They've had enough experience with church to be reluctant, but often a critical life event, relationship or message convinces them it's time to engage. This is the time to aim small groups. Worship attendance and serving are important but to lessen the chances of missing out on the target - authentic Christ-like discipleship - a church must set its sights on small groups.
I grew up on a ranch, so my entire childhood was spent around guns. I owned and used a BB gun, a 22 rifle, a 30-30 rifle and often used other family member's rifles. (In context, know that training and respect for guns was built into the culture I grew up in.) When shooting an open-sight rifle (i.e. a rifle without a scope), you always align the rear sight (closest to you) with the front sight (tip of the barrel) and the intended target. This is the key to hitting what you're shooting at.
Aiming small groups requires lining up the rear sight, connecting people, with the front sight sight, authentic relationships, and the target,Christ-like discipleship.
The smaller you make the Christ-like, discipleship target the more likely you are to see success. For instance if you connect people in groups and everyone chooses to honestly open up and you align both of these around spending daily time with the Lord. That's aiming small. What happens if you take any of these sight points away?
- If people aren't connecting with each other in your church, authenticity if it happens, could be with a neighbor, co-worker, family member or friend who may or may not be committed to the same target. Don't miss - get them connected.
- If people are connecting but their relationships are shallow and inauthentic, they often talk all around the idea of spending time with the Lord without talking about how God is really speaking to them about becoming more like Christ. Don't miss - model and measure authenticity.
- If the Christ-like discipleship target is vague or overly general when people connect they might authentically share but the target is so large that they end up sharing about random life experiences, politics, the weather or sports teams. Don't miss - teach people to share how the Lord is speaking to them.
If you know the story of Churchteams, you know that we started with a clear eye on helping churches use technology to revolutionize small groups.
- We pioneered Groupfinder, a website integrated tool to help churches connect people. This is the rear sight.
- We automated email reminders for leaders to communicate consistently with their groups. This helped us provide church staff a snapshot into how likely the group was living authentically. This is the front sight.
- We created Growthfinder, a customizable assessment to help groups assess their progress based on a default but customizable discipleship profile. This is the target.
Over the next months, we are going to dig into these and other related small group features that were and are foundational to the tools we provide to help your church accomplish it's discipleship strategy and goals.