In the last few posts I’ve discussed the five purposes of small groups at High Point church. Our vision for small groups is for them to be Christ centered, transformational communities. The five purposes and practices of small groups are designed to build these communities.
In this post I want to discuss purpose #5: Service.
Service is a broad word. That’s intentional. You can serve inside the church and ministry environments. You can serve outside the church in agencies or other organizations in the city. You can help a neighbor.
Exactly where or with whom we serve isn’t actually the point. The point is to sacrifice something of yourself for the true good of someone else and to do this regularly as a part of the rhythm and pattern of your life.
Service should be sacrificial
It should annoy you. You should have to rearrange your schedule. You should be wondering what you’re going to do with the kids. And so on. Most service that really helps other people is sacrificial. You give something up, like time, safety, money, privacy, energy, etc.
Service should be regular
The benchmark we use is quarterly. In small group training we teach all the small group leaders to get their group out serving someone at least quarterly. Doing it more often than that would be great. Some groups will have people in lifestages that make doing a lot more service feasible. Whatever your context, if you don’t do it intentionally you can be pretty sure you won’t do it at all.
Get it into your parenting model
Service will get in the way of the routine you have for your kids. If it does, the routine has to be adjusted. One of the problems of modern parenting is we have culturally forgotten what kids actually need from us. Most of the things we do to nurture them have no biblical or scientific evidence supporting our children’s need for spiritual, social, ethical or economic success. Music, sports and other forms of extracurricular nurturing are not bad, but they are also not necessary for a fully functioning godly adult. It’s great if we can have these things in our children’s lives, but they are not as important as being part of a church, taking our kids to serve others, putting our kids in situations where they’ll fail, giving them household responsibilities, and so on.
One of the things your kids desperately need from you is for you to teach them what should be part of the life of a family and a Christian adult.
Is it okay for a Christian adults to spend all their time and money on their family and children? You may be driving them around to another lesson, and that lesson might be good for them, but you have to remember you are also teaching them that good Christian adults put their kids in lots of extracurricular activities even if it means missing church, ignoring service, and having a pattern of family life no one else can be included in.
Do it together
Serving together builds community. It provides for more extended conversations because it’s in a context in which some people feel much more comfortable talking. It breaks down a relatively large group of 15 people into much smaller subgroups of two or three people. Some people bond better over tasks.
You also need to know that God works in us and in our group in many different ways as we serve together. You may not know every single thing that He’s doing before you go out and serve, but know that He is at work.
Make it fun
Bring a grill and cook out, play some music, bring snacks. Think over how this project is going to go and try to prepare for the needs people might have and what might make the project more fun.
Stop and talk with people
Remember, it’s not just about the service project. We’re not there to fix things, or rake things, or anything else. We are there to serve people. It’s often good to bring someone along just to talk to people, or to take take a break and talk with them. It’s especially good to have the children talk with whoever it is that you’re serving.
And remember: always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within you because of Christ. Don’t be pushy or mean, but also don’t be bashful. The message of Christ is far more valuable than anything you could offer in physical service.
Use The HUB
If you are having any trouble figuring out where to serve – we have a whole section on the hub designed to connect you with useful and helpful service projects. Just log onto the HUB, click “serve the city” and you’re off. Also, if you’re looking to do service within the church, click on “build the church” and you can find service opportunities that fit your gifts.
The HUB is a useful and efficient resource to get you connected with service either through your group, through your family, or by yourself.
Report what you’ve done
It’s really helpful for us on staff if you tell us what you do. We’re always trying to figure out whether or not the ministry of equipping that we are doing is having any effect. We need information to know if people are responding, how much their serving, and how they might need to be equipped to serve better. When you let us know what you’re doing and how your experience went it helps us know what to teach, what to change in the service projects for the next people, and how to move forward as leaders. You can get in touch with the Serve the City leaders, Paul & Barb Morin to let them know how it all went.
See the overview video here.