by Rick Warren
A pastor must be in a small group. You need to show your congregation that small groups are so important for spiritual growth that even you belong to one. This allows you to share about your experiences, such as how being in a small group helped you during a difficult time or how the small group keeps you from becoming isolated as a pastor. I’ve been a part of a small group for almost ten years.
In addition, require your staff and key lay leaders to be part of a small group. It will not only help them, but it will also show the congregation that becoming part of a small group is essential to Christian growth.
Being a host is not limited to leaders and teachers. In fact, we started using the term HOST at Saddleback Church because many people do not think of themselves as leaders or teachers, and so they assume they are not qualified to facilitate a small group. We stress that being a HOST simply requires four things: Have a heart for people, Open up a place to meet, Serve something to drink,Turn on a DVD.
I used to ask if people could open up their homes, but changed this to a place to meet because so many people today have their small groups at coffee houses, restaurants, even in the park. Can you serve something to drink? In other words, we’re pointing out that hosting a small group only requires some basic hospitality? Can you Turn on a DVD? I even explain that, if the group is small enough, the host can use a laptop computer.
The point is, anyone can be a small group host: teenagers, senior adults, brand new believers. And be sure to tell your congregation that the host grows the most.
Start new groups with new people. It is easier to start new groups with new people that it is to assimilate new people into existing groups. When new people come into an existing group, there’s always the feeling that they are behind everyone else or that they aren’t quite a full member.
Keep small groups small. It doesn’t take a lot of people to start a small group. In fact, small groups are better as a small group, such as 6-8 people instead of 18-20. The Bible teaches that wherever two or three are gathered in the name of Jesus, he will be there. So just two or three people can make a group.
Make hosts visible. I suggest honoring small group hosts by having them stand during a service, then say, “Look around. Do you see any super saints? These hosts are just normal believers, but they are willing to serve. Being a small group host is not limited to super saints, pastors or missionaries. Can you turn on a DVD and then, when it is time to ask the next question from the study guide, ask the question?”
Then, release the small group hosts early so they can go to the foyer, or patio, wherever you have set up to distribute the small group material. Allow the hosts to get the material first, but then say, “If you are willing to be a host, then you can go now to sign-up”.
Tie 40 Days in the Word with a vision night. If you’re recruiting small group hosts for 40 Days in the Word, take the time to cast a vision for the spiritual growth of your congregation. Remind people, ‘This is where we’ve been, and this is where we’re going.’ Saddleback Church is emphasizing the next ten years as a ‘Decade of Destiny’, so, at this week’s vision night, the theme was “Change Your Life! Change the World!”
You know that changing lives starts with the Bible, and that’s why 40 Days in the Word emphasizes eight laws of Spiritual Growth –
- Intentional: We make a commitment, and we are deliberate in the decision to grow.
- Incremental: We grow step-by-step.
- Personal: We all grow at different rates.
- Habitual: We grow by developing habits and being consistent.
- Relational: We grow in community.
- Multi-Dimensional: We grow by hearing, learning, speaking, and living the truth.
- Seasonal: We grow in seasons. A tree does not produce fruit in every season.
- Incarnational: We become more like Jesus.
I hope you can join us for 40 Days in the Word. It’s not too late to get your church involved in the campaign (see below). I’m committed to giving you everything you need to succeed. The sermon topics include –
- Introduction – Why Should I Build My Life on the Bible.
- Week 1 – Can I Trust the Bible?
- Week 2 – The Purpose of the Bible.
- Week 3 – How Do I See what God Wants Me to See in the Bible?
- Week 4 – How Do I Know what it Means?
- Week 5 – How Do I Hide God’s Word in My Heart?
- Week 6 – How Do I Know What to Do About It?
A church can be added to the 40 Days in the Word registration list by going to: http://www.40daysintheword.com/churchsignup/ and clicking on ‘Church Registration’. They just need to enter their zip code, church name, and email. They will be added to the email list that will update the churches to all things 40DITW.
A church can start the Campaign at any date they please. The first group is launching their kickoff services on January 29th. However, many churches are starting in mid-to-late February too.
As Rick delivers each sermon, it will be available at Saddleback Resources:http://www.saddlebackresources.com/40-Days-in-the-Word-Sermons–C2924.aspx.
For additional information, you can call 1-800-SADDLEBACK or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rick also recommends two books: