Social spaces consist of 20~70 people and are efficient at creating community, facilitation mission, and promoting spiritual practices.[i] Jesus’ social context was the 70 who were sent out in Luke 10:1. Many of our LIFE Groups function in this context on a weekly basis and even more LIFE Groups function like this during fellowship events.
Social spaces are crucial for our discipleship strategy, so, we must leverage them well. Part of that leveraging is to be sure that they function as a social space instead of a public space. It is very easy to allow a social space to become “preaching” focused instead of community led and they can become sources of mere inspiration as opposed to engaged mission. As group leaders, we must be vigilant to preserve the community feel while keeping the challenge and vision perpetually in front of our members.
To accomplish those tasks, we must nurture L, I, and E well. You have been called as the F leader and spiritual guide for the group; it is crucial that you develop a leadership team to handle these functions for the group. Through the L and I function (Love one another and Involved in biblical community), you will be able to develop the community feel needed for confidence in the faith and the carrying of one another’s burdens. Most groups have prayer time and send those prayers out weekly by email. Continue to do that but also consider tracking them to completion so that, eventually, there might be as many praises for answered prayers as there are petitions. Moreover, even when prayers aren’t answered in the way we’d like, by tracking them we can see how God is working in our lives. Also, don’t neglect your group fellowships because it is a non-classroom setting where people will inevitably relate in a different way. Pot lucks are always a strong way to go!
The E function calls for community engagement. This function has traditionally been the most difficult to sustain on a regular basis. Some tools that might help you are to find someone in your group with a particular passion. While everyone in that group might not share the passion, this person will nevertheless champion it and sway others to be on mission. Make that person your E leader. We can help find this person through PLACE data and the like. Be sure to have times of debrief and follow-up for the projects that you do. Debriefing will allow time for introspection on how God is working through the service and follow-up will help foster continued care, focus, and community with those you serve.
In short, to maximize the social space well, you must delegate. You cannot immerse yourselves in the Word the way that most of you do and the way we ask you to do while also juggling these other duties. Furthermore, a pivotal step in discipleship is raising people up into leadership roles consistent with their gifts and abilities. Do not cheat them out of these discipleship opportunities.
Meditate on the Luke 10 passage with how Jesus relates to the 70. Continue to focus on your calling as spiritual guide and shepherd while beginning to pray that God raises up from within your groups individuals with a heart for inreach and outreach. It will not come back void.