Tuesday, January 7, 2020

What to Fill Our Lives with for 2020

The start of the New Year is the perfect time to pause and pray over what the Lord has in store for the year ahead. Church staff members, lay ministers, and small group leaders can especially find value of this season, as the answers to our prayers oftentimes forge the direction of the entire church for the next 12 months. While we prepare our hearts for the year of 2020, let us fill our lives with three key components that allow us to more effectively lead our small groups!

Fill Your Life With Love
In his book Leading Small Groups with Purpose, Steve Gladen says that “the best thing you can do for your group members is to be in close relationship with Christ. If you have that…you will show your group members how to worship God rather than merely tell them how.” If you are seeking for ways to grow your relationship with Christ, then January is an excellent month to practice spiritual disciplines—activities that position us better to grow in a relationship with the Lord. If you are looking for a wonderful post-Christmas read, one of the best modern books on the topic of spiritual disciplines is widely agreed to be Richard Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline.” Prayer, simplicity, service, and more are all covered in this excellent book, and Foster appropriately challenges the reader to make changes in their lives to spend more time with God. When we spend time with Him, we experience His unconditional love. And when we begin to understand the fullness of His love, we find ourselves responding to the irresistible urge to share it with the others that are in our lives. By filling our lives with the love of Jesus, our group members will become encouraged to pursue spiritual disciplines as well and learn how to nurture an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

Fill Your Life With the Truth
“31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…34 Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’” (John 8:31-36, NIV)
According to John 8:31-36, we can understand two key points: that when we obey the commandments of Jesus, we are really His disciples; and that when we are really His disciples, we are then set free by the truth. Fear, on the other hand, attempts to accomplish the opposite effect, for it is a weapon used by the evil one to hold us in place and imprison us. As noted in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (NIV). By filling our lives with the truth of Scripture, we become empowered through Christ to repent from sins or less-than-holy habits that may be weighing on us. It is here when we are freed from the shackles of sin that we are able to focus more on our group members and utilize a higher share of our personal resources to bless them instead.

Fill Your Life With Faith
While we are encouraged to proceed with boldness and confidence in leading the small group that the Lord has called us to lead, the evil one will not surrender so easily. Predictably, he will attempt to utilize that age-old weapon of fear, trying to make us think that we aren’t good enough, that others won’t want to be in our group, or that the group will somehow lose focus and fade away. This is not the plan that the Lord has for you. He is a faithful God, and it is because of His faithfulness that we can have the faith that He will follow through on the plans that He informed you of (the same plans you used to make the decision to sign up and lead your group). By filling our lives with faith, the confidence that we have in the Lord will be infectious, and our group members will be blessed abundantly because they too will be eager to be a part of a healthy, thriving community.

Follow on Twitter @SeanBuono

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