A few years ago I had coffee with Tony and Burt, Small Group Ministry Leaders from towns over one hundred miles from my home. We had each been leading the Small Group Ministry at our churches for a number of years. We had each read lots of books and each of us had even attended a Small Group Conference, but that was the first time we had ever sat down face to face with another Small Group Ministry Leader just to talk groups.
Each of us was desperate to connect with someone who was in a similar ministry, with the same battles and victories. It was encouraging for each of us to know that we shared the same passion for small groups and passion for building the Body of Christ.
God had already blessed me with a network of people to call when I was having a rough day in ministry. Tony had few. What if I had not been there for Tony? Would Burt’s church still be pursuing community with a skilled ministry leader? Would I still be in the ministry today? I may never know the answer to those questions, but this I do know, Tony, Burt and I have developed a relationship where we are able to build each other up for ministry. I need these kind of relationships. So do you.
When I was first launching Men’s Small Groups, I often used the phrase “2:00 a.m. Friends”. You know who they are. They are the people who you can call at 2:00 a.m., while you are in the midst of a crisis… and they will answer the phone. I would ask the same question today of any Small Group Ministry Leader, “Who do you know that would answer the phone at 2:00 a.m.”? You may not call at literally 2:00 a.m., but your “2:00 a.m.” may be when you find your ministry in a crisis situation. Do you have someone to call?
For me the PDSG Network is here to connect 2:00 a.m. friends. My experience is that most Small Group Ministries have more in common than one may think. Case in point: Last November I was blessed to travel to a planning retreat for the PDSG Network. It was about midnight as the guys in my cabin were settling in for the night. Three of us were still too wired to sleep and we ended up in the kitchen “networking”, or in plain terms, talking about small groups. It amazed me that each of us shared the same priority concern for our ministries. And the funny thing was, one of us oversees forty groups. Another oversees four hundred groups. And the third oversees four thousand groups. But we shared the same ministry concerns. We had the same problems and had shared many of the same joys.
Why do I do what I do? That’s easy. My ministry matters in the Kingdom. Your ministry matters in the Kingdom. Why wouldn’t we want to walk together? Why wouldn’t we want to build each other up?
If you don’t have a 2:00 a.m. friend, get one. Better yet, if you aren’t a 2:00 a.m. friend, be one.
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” Philippians 1:3-6 (NIV).
Jay Daniell is the PDSG Network Database Manager and the North Central Area Point Leader. He is also the Small Group Ministry Director at Our Savior Lutheran in Norfolk, Nebraska. firstname.lastname@example.org