You may remember the moment in the movie Dead Poets Society when the teacher showed the boys in his poetry class a showcase containing pictures of great legends. These were men who graduated on to become politicians, businessmen, and entrepeneurs. Moving behind the boys as they stared the pictures, the teacher began speaking softly, “Carpe diem… Carpe diem… Seize the day boys… Seize the Day!”
From the days of Robert Raikes and John Wesley in the 1700’s; Stephen Paxson and the American Sunday School Union in the 1800’s; and Arthur Flake, Prince Burroughs, J.N. Barnette, Harry Piland and hundreds of thousands of Sunday School teachers in the 1900’s; men and women have seized the day and shared the Gospel and taught God’s Word to cute little preschoolers, rambunctious children, energetic teens, and preoccupied adults. They were all part of God’s movement to bring the Gospel not just to America, but around the world.
It is now the 21st century, and a movement is growing. It is a movement that is taking hold in places like Louisiana, Mississippi, and Kentucky. Church leaders; pastors, Sunday School teachers, directors, and home group leaders: are recognizing the way to move the Gospel forward in this century is by inviting people into a relationship with Christ by inviting them to their group. But to reach more people with the Gospel, new groups must be started.
New Groups! It is a movement that is both a throwback to the old days of missionary Sunday Schools; yet it is also counter-cultural to today’s attitude that bigger is better. Many of our churches have not started a new group in years… ummm, maybe decades. But the addition of just a new group or two can break years of declining attendance and bring new people into the church. Fresh energy and a revived realization that the church is not just here for us, but that the great salvation that we have been blessed with is also available to others in our neighborhoods, schools, and work places. It is no secret that when the church starts accomplishing its mission of reaching the lost with the Gospel, great things happen. Acts 2 and Acts 11 are examples.
Unlike many programs available to churches today, starting a new group isn’t really a program. It is a necessity. A new group is one of those rare evangelism and discipleship strategies that can be started by any church regardless of location, size, or ethnicity. A new group does not cost much money or even require a building. You need a leader, a Bible, a place to meet, and some passion.
There is a movement afoot in the American church. Your church may have tried the hip programs, the big events, and invited all the cool speakers… and a couple of months later you found yourself in the exact same place you were in before.
New groups are different. They are going to require steady work – so work it!
You are going to have to spend time developing a few leaders – spend the time!
You are going to have some naysayers – prove them wrong!
After you have listened to all of the objections; looked at the work required; and tried to reason things out and make sense of it all; ask yourself this question…
Is it worth it?
There is only one way to join the new groups movement… start a new group!
So what are you waiting for?
Bob Mayfield is the Sunday School and Small Group specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Bob also writes on his own blog… bobmayfield.com