4 Ways to Strengthen Your Small Group

  • 30 September 2017
  • Randy Wollf

small group
Have you ever wondered why some small groups thrive while others spin their wheels? Have you ever asked yourself what it would take to take move your group into a healthier position?

Jim Egli and Dwight Marable have discovered that groups that see people accept Christ, increase in size, and multiply into additional groups have four things in common. Their book called Small Groups - Big Impact: Connecting People to God and One Another in Thriving Groups outlines these commonalities. Let's take a look at each factor:  


The study found that 83% of groups that had a leader who modelled and facilitated prayer saw someone come to Christ in the past nine months (versus 19% of groups that did not have a praying leader). Praying leaders spend time with God. They actively pray for group members and group meetings. They pray for unsaved people in their lives and in the lives of others within the group. As the leader and others in the group engage in a lifestyle of prayer, people sense God’s presence in the group. Life change happens. People get saved. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that kind of group?


When group leaders and their groups have an outreach focus, they are much more likely to see people come to Christ. The study found that 90% of groups with this kind of focus saw someone come to Christ in the last six months (versus 11% of groups without this outreach emphasis). In the book, Egli and Marable talk about the five I’s of reaching out: 

    • Investment - Members spend time with friends in order to share Christ
    • Invitation – Leaders encourage members to invite others
    • Intention - Outreach is a stated purpose of the group
    • Intercession – Group members pray during their meetings for unsaved friend 
    • Imitation - Leaders model relational outreach

If we want to grow our small groups, outreach needs to be an important part of group life.


Ways to Serve New Immigrants in Your Community

  • 13 June 2017
  • Randy Wollf

Immigrant familyNot everyone can sponsor a refugee family. However, there are many ways that we can serve new immigrants who are living in our communities. My family had the amazing privilege of living in close community with new immigrants for seven months. New Hope Community Services had purchased an apartment building in Surrey, British Columbia for housing refugees and helping them settle into life in Canada. They were looking for host families to move in and do life with these newcomers (you can read about our experiences as a host family by reading a past blog called Do Something). 

As we interacted with new immigrants, I learned new ways to serve them. Here are some ideas for how you can serve new immigrants, even if you aren’t acting as their official sponsor: 

Develop Your Cultural Skill Set

The first way of serving immigrants is to develop your own cultural skill set so that you are in a better position to serve them. How do we do this?

  • Expect cultural differences – Some cultures are task-based while others are more relational. Some are individualistic while others are collectivistic (emphasizing the significance of groups). Some cultures tend to plan their time while others view time as flexible. The first step to developing your cultural skill set is to expect these kinds of cultural differences and to recognize that one cultural perspective is not necessarily better than another. 
  • Adapt to those around you – As you encounter cultural differences, discern which of your values at play in the situation are negotiable and which are non-negotiable. Be flexible with those that are negotiable. 
  • Dialogue about cultural differences – Be open with your immigrant friends about the differences you observe. Listen to the reasons why they do what they do. Carefully and sensitively communicate the reasons for your cultural preferences. As you do so, you will build mutual understanding and respect.

Help with Practical Needs

Betrayed by Busyness

  • 4 May 2017
  • Keith Reed

Blur of busynessBusyness is the hymn of our age. Our mantra, our anthem, our expectation.  

Unless you’re Eugene Peterson. 

Peterson defines "busy" as the symptom not of commitment but of betrayal. Busy pastors are not demonstrating devotion; they are exercising defection [1]. 

Peterson first published these words in 1981, but ministry professionals have hardly heeded his counsel. As I think of the pastors I know and when I reminisce on my time in that role, I don’t believe there’s a more fitting descriptor for the state of the pastorate than busy. The demands of church ministry are rising, the focus of parishioners is dwindling, and the results of our disciple-making efforts are plateauing [2]. Is it any wonder then, that our typical response is to increase our labour and fill our calendars with more? 

Peterson reveals two causes for his own busyness and he describes each as ignoble: 

I am busy because I am vain 

Peterson draws a connecting line between busyness and the allure of success and his comparison speaks even louder today. In a recent United States study, researchers found that a busier person is thought to have higher status [3]. This may explain why free time is frantically consumed by fruitless activity—perhaps it is this perception that fuels our resistance to be still.  

I worked at a golf and country club for several years when I was a young adult. The course was only closed two days a year, so there were many poor-weather-days when I was left with almost nothing to do. But my boss loved to remind us that we weren’t being paid to do nothing, so I learned how to develop endless ways to appear busy. I once overheard my boss tell a co-worker, “You can’t just stand there even if there’s nothing to do. Do what Keith does—he always looks busy.” It didn’t take long for me to discover it was more valuable to look busy than to do something productive. If I don’t consciously fight against this false value, I fall into the trap of doing busy work instead of important work.  

I am busy because I am lazy 

Laziness breeds busyness despite masking itself as an unlikely precursor. Peterson explains that when pastors allow others to decide their schedule, they become slaves to unnecessary assignments that detract from their core responsibilities. Many pastors will accept these tasks as part of their jobs, but Peterson offers a different perspective: when pastors abdicate their essential work, it’s an indication of their propensity to cater to the desires of others and their unwillingness to stand up for the priorities of the pastorate.