Friday, June 12, 2009


I was in a meeting with pastors, talking about small groups. I made the statement that I thought small groups were all about love. A pastor asked, "Doesn't that say the wrong thing, asking people to be in a small group so that they will be loved?" I answered, "I'm not asking people to be in a small group so that they can be loved. I'm asking them to be in a small group so that they can love. The person in the small group is the lover, not the lovee." The mission of Christ the King Community Church is to create an authentic Christian community that effectively reaches out to unchurched people in love, acceptance and forgiveness, so that they may experience the joy of salvation and a purposeful life of discipleship. That mission applies as much or more to the small group as to the Worship Center. We are here to "reach out effectively in love."

Of course, people do need to be loved. And you, of course, are a person. I'm not sure there's anything necessarily wrong with putting yourself in a position where you can get what you need. Searching for love is perfectly natural. But searching TO love is perfectly supernatural. We are calling people to put themselves in a position to supernaturally fulfill the one-another commands of scripture. But this can only happen if group participants all come prepared to give themselves as a blessing to the others in the group. Giovanni Francesco Bernardone (St. Francis) offered up a prayer along these lines: "Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life."

Of course if everyone in a group comes prepared to be a lover, the likelihood is great that everyone in the group is going to end up being a lovee, as well. But the rationale is deeper than utilitarianism. Spiritual veterans like St. Francis will tell you that you can only get what you give. We're called to be a river, not a reservoir. As you arrive at your group meeting, your prayer should be, "Lord, help me to love the people in my group well." Undoubtedly you will have needs in your own life (for encouragement, for insight, for understanding), but if you fixate on those needs you will be having a natural group experience, not a supernatural one. Get the arrows pointed out. When the arrows are pointed out it aligns with the heart of God and he is pleased to bless that. If you will be a lover, instead of a lovee, you'll find that the more you are a blessing, the more you will be blessed. He'll get it to you if he can get it through you.

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