< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Good to Great in God’s Eyes Part 2

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Good to Great in God’s Eyes Part 2

To finish up the chapter I taught about Pursuing Great People from Chip Ingram’s book Good to Great in God's Eyes:

Chip lists 5 people from his life – I’ll just tell you really quick who they were. Try to think of people in your life – or maybe someone in church – that fits each role:

Coach – Someone who kind of makes themselves a mentor. The “It takes a village” mentality – and feels the need to fulfill that role.

Punkie – Someone who lives the walk. Someone you instinctively want to please and not disappoint.

Dave Marshall– quiet, does so much, but never talks about it. All around good guy.

Howard Hendricks – teacher/minister. A Chip Ingram. An Anne Graham Lotz, Beth Moore, etc.

Theresa – integrity, honesty –Chip also said Theresa has a devotion to God and constancy and follow through – she won’t give up.

So he talks mostly about people he knows. He says they should be people who believe in you, who speak the truth in love, who can give you a picture of the kind of person you want to be and who can help you set goals and push you toward them. I thought this was the perfect description of what a spouse or parent should be.

Our church has confirmation mentors, do we do anything else like this? Are older adults put in a position in our church where they can be a great Christian for younger adults or kids? If not, how could the church make this happen?

Does our class do this? Can we? How?

Individually – besides cutting all negative people out of our lives – what can we do?

Do you think our class can be an accountability group for each other?

In The Purpose Driven Life Rick Warren says: It takes honesty - care enough to honestly speak the truth. One thing I thought of when I read this is tolerance. Being politically correct. How the world says Christians are too rigid and should let everyone believe what they believe. I believe that it’s not the loving thing to do to let people go down the wrong path. That it’s love that makes Christians speak up.

Ephesians 4:15 says, “Speak the truth in love.”

Proverbs 24:26 says, “An honest answer is a sign of true friendship.”

Warren says within the churches (in small groups) we need to confront people who are doing the wrong thing. And I think that’s really hard. Confrontation is hard, especially since we are all taught to mind our own business. But, he says, glossing over things will keep a group superficial and from growing close. He says never be rude about it and go to the person directly and not in front of a bunch of people. But, be honest with them. Paul rebuked the Corinthian church for looking the other way and allowing immorality in their fellowship.

So cultivating community in church or a small group takes honesty. It also takes humility. Pride builds walls between people. It destroys fellowship. Humility builds bridges. He says pride blocks God’s grace in our lives because we must humbly admit we need it first. We can develop humility by admitting our own weakness, by being patient with other’s weaknesses and by being open to correction and by pointing the spotlight onto others instead of ourselves.

Humility is not thinking less of yourself – it’s just thinking of yourself less and others more.

Cultivating community in church or a small group also takes courtesy. Being considerate of each other’s feelings and being patient with people. He says in every small group there is at least 1 “difficult” person, and usually more then one. These persons may have special emotional needs, deep insecurities, irritating mannerisms or poor social skills and he suggests we think of them as EGR people. (Extra Grace Required)

He says God put these people here for both their benefit and ours. I think it’s like always having the poor, or taking care of handicapped people. They are an opportunity for our growth. A test of our compassion and our fellowship. Will we love them as brothers and sisters and treat them with dignity? They are part of our family and we protect, defend and take care of them.

Cultivating community also takes confidentiality so that people can feel safe sharing their hurts, needs, doubts and mistakes and know the group won’t talk about it outside the group. Warren brings up that sometimes gossip is thinly disguised as prayer requests and we need to be really careful of that.

And finally cultivating community takes frequency. Regular, frequent connecting with the small group in order to build genuine fellowship. Relationships take time. We are to develop the habit of meeting together. It takes lots of time! Meeting even when we don’t feel like it.

So to re-cap: for small groups it’s important to:

Share our true feelings
Encourage each other
Support each other
Forgive each other
Speak the truth in love
Admit our weakness
Respect our differences
Not gossip
And make the group a priority. Meet with frequency.

That’s a lot of work and a big commitment. It means giving up our self-centeredness and independence, but the benefits are worth it and it prepares us for heaven.

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