In the first chapter of the Apostle John’s gospel, he writes several significant statements about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:
- Jesus has always existed and is equal with God (verses 1-2).
- Jesus is the Creator and the giver of life (verses 3-4).
- Jesus is the Light of the world (verses 5-9).
- Jesus came into the world and was rejected (verses 10-11).
- Jesus is the Savior of all who will believe (verses 12-13).
- Jesus’ physical presence gave the world the opportunity to see a picture of the Father (verse 14).
You may ask, “What does this have to do with Sunday school classes and Care Group ministry?” My answer to that question is, “Perspective.”
Since Jesus is the only Son of God and equal to the Father, He would have had any resource He wanted available to Him to accomplish His Father’s purpose and proclaim the salvation message to a lost and dying world. Yet, He emptied Himself of His divine privileges and waited until He was 30 years old to begin His earthly ministry, which only lasted 3 years. So, in my estimation, looking at how He did ministry in those 3 years would be highly beneficial for us as 21st-century believers.
What did Jesus do during His short window of ministry that set the example for us today? He invested in people. Of course, He preached to large crowds and did great miracles, but let us not forget how He spent most of His time. He poured Himself into the lives of 12 individuals (one of whom chose not to accept the truth), teaching them to do the same in the lives of others. They did not truly grasp it until after His resurrection and ascension, but when they did, what a difference they made!
Just like Jesus’ Apostles, we are also called to make a difference in other people’s lives. While we all understand the importance of our worship services, we would all agree that our small group times (we call it Sunday school) give us the greatest opportunity to implement Jesus’ model of personally investing in people. This is why establishing Care Groups is so important. They are a vehicle through which personal investment in people can take place and be measured. Allow me to give you 7 reasons why every Sunday school class should have a Care Group ministry.
Reason #1: An other-centered culture is promoted.
If we are not careful, our Sunday school classes can become comfortable, walled off collections of select friend groups, removing any opportunity for anyone new to break through. Having a care group ministry sets the standard for your class to actively assimilate and invest in every person that comes into the group.
Reason #2: Genuine relationships develop.
When people choose to intentionally invest in others in their Sunday school class, relationships transition from acquaintances to family. Communication strengthens, fellowship becomes sweeter, and a greater awareness of each other’s needs becomes the priority. Trust increases between the members of a class, which leads to the 3rd reason.
Reason #3: Effective ministry takes place.
Now that the class members have built a trust with each other and are familiar with each other’s joys and struggles, they are now better equipped to meet each other’s needs. A natural shift occurs from “scheduling ministry opportunities” to effective ministry happening consistently as the “one-anothering” process comes to fruition. This process softens people’s hearts to not only meet physical needs, but spiritual needs as well.
Reason #4: Outreach opportunities are more focused.
It should be the desire of any group of believers to see the lost won to Christ. But the evangelistic passion and intensity should be intensified in care groups that are functioning effectively. Care groups have an easily identifiable target group of people they should be pursuing for salvation, each other’s spheres of influence! Praying for each other’s friends by name, setting up outings so that new introductions can be made, or the group finding a way to meet the need of someone loosely connected are just a few ways of capitalizing on outreach opportunities.
Reason #5: Discipleship opportunities are more personal.
Biblical discipleship is more than the transfer of biblical facts, it is the process by which a follower chooses to imitate Jesus’ life, His choices, and His attitudes. For discipleship to be effective and sustaining, it must happen on a one-on-one basis. Accountability is essential. A care group ministry facilitates the personal nature of discipleship.
Reason #6: Leadership training is more widespread.
I have heard it said countless times, “You should always be pouring into someone, and someone should always be pouring into you.” These words are so true, and a care group ministry provides the environment for this to take place. Everyone in the care group can have a part in the “iron sharpening iron” principle. A care group leader should be training another faithful member to lead their own care group. As ministry gifts are identified, care group members should be partnered together to encourage people to “take the next step” in their Christian journey. Leadership development which benefits the overall Sunday school class or church ministry should be determined and people should be trained within their care groups to meet those needs. If each care group is purposeful in developing leaders within their own group, then we will see our Sunday school classes vibrant and productive.
Reason #7: Future growth is cultivated.
This last reason for a Care Group ministry should be the most visible…we are preparing ourselves for new people to join our group on a constant basis! Other people will see what is happening to their friends and family, and they will want to see for themselves what is going on. When new people visit, there is a place for them to receive immediate ministry. As they are ministered to and changed, they will then begin to grow and reach out to others. New Sunday school classes are born, and new care groups are formed. A care group ministry allows for sustained longevity in personal ministry, continued maturation of ministry-minded believers, and genuine reproduction of the discipleship process.
As we have seen, the model for Care Groups is not a new mindset, rather, something that Jesus instituted Himself, understanding that His intentional investment in a few specific people would multiply their ministry effectiveness over the course of their lives.
The same is true today.
Please encourage your Sunday school teachers to equip those within their class to “do the work of the ministry,” thereby greatly increasing the impact of your overall ministry as a church. How awesome would it be, because of your thriving Care Group ministries, to hear your community say about your church, “They’ve turned this city upside down for Jesus!”?