If you’ve been wrestling with how to make your small group more missional, I feel your pain. It is really difficult to do. Our default setting is to exist for each other, not the people groups we’re reaching out to. It’s important that small groups care for each other, but they must not exist for themselves alone. Here are some thoughts on how to move your “small group” to more of a “missional community.”
Most of our typical small group prayers are focused on each other. We share “ups and downs” for the week and pray for each other, and rightly so. To be more missional, try adding a different category to your prayer requests. Ask everyone to share an update on friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and classmates that they are reaching out to, and be sure to pray for them.
Change the Conversation
Talk outwardly too. A leader who is seeking to make a small group more missional must be sure to have mission as a regular part of the conversation. Set aside time every week to talk about who you’re reaching out to and what spiritual conversations are taking place. Make this an expectation of the time together. Hold each other accountable to mission.
Put it on Paper
Create a list of people groups (schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, establishments, etc.) and individuals (specific names) that you are praying for. Put it on paper. Keep this list before the group each week as a focus of prayer and conversation.
Take a Week Off
Have a week where you agree not to meet in order for people to meet with the friends they are praying for. Meet again the following week to talk about your experiences and conversations. Cast vision in advance so that everyone has time to plan a gathering of their own. Meet the following week to share stories.
Take a Week Out
Have a week where you meet outside of your home at a restaurant, coffee house, park, or bar, and intentionally invite all the people you have been praying for. This allows everyone in the group to actually meet the people they have been praying for. Pick a place many of your friends frequent and meet there instead.
Take a Season Off
Have a 4-6 week campaign when you intentionally exist for others. Create material specifically for those exploring faith, and cater your gatherings towards seekers. Create a safe environment for unbelievers to question and to have conversations. Use this time to specifically invite your neighbors, classmates, coworkers, and friends to join you.
Justin Christopher is the National Campus Director for Campus Renewal and the author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.