With very little education space, Pastor Jason realized numerical growth in the Sunday morning Bible study had reached its pinnacle. Originally built for a horse barn the church had creatively remodeled the building to accommodate a worship space and a few classrooms. There simply was no more room to add additional Sunday morning Bible study classes and little room to add newcomers to existing classes.
After months of prayer and brainstorming, Pastor Jason and the church leaders brought a plan before the church. A risky plan in human eyes and in traditional church terms. The plan, scrap Sunday morning Bible study. Now, that’s not the term they used, but they were going to move Bible study to other times during the week using other locations.
I’m not in favor of doing away with Sunday School. So when Jason first approached me with the idea, I was cautious, but listened. Over the next couple of months, they would bring their workings and ideas to me and then to a team from within the church. We discussed, I would caution or suggest in certain areas, they would go back and iron out the bugs, then we would meet again to discuss. Jason, his staff, and the team had really thought this through. They had a plan, more than a plan.
Every Sunday morning in July included a training meeting for every person who would lead and participate in one of the new small in-home groups. Then the launch. An instant increase of more than 20% in attendance was realized immediately. Additional groups were needed due to the increase in new servants for the second quarterly cycle and the following one as well.
One of the key ingredients was active ministry engagement by each small homegroup. Not necessarily as you might find in most churches though. One requirement for each small group designed and built into the training was that each group would choose a ministry – outside the church – they could be engaged in as a group and they would serve together at least once each month at that ministry location. Some chose food pantries, nursing homes, and any “others oriented” local ministries where they could physically serve together.
This church installed in their small group ministry a means to not only talk about discipleship but to demonstrate discipleship on a regular basis and doing it together. The work of the gospel and the Holy Spirit is manifested through ministry (serving others).
This church has become a disciple-making church realizing that the church does not exist only for its members. By building in this model of ministry the church was building into their culture of connection; connecting to God and one another through Bible study and connecting to a lost world by serving them together. They also realized a principle for what makes people stick, serving together. People serving together will stick and you grow disciples through serving together.
What is your take-away from this article for your life personally, and for your church’s effective fruitfulness?