Every Thursday I’ll send a note to your inbox with a devotional thought designed to help connect you with God, information about what’s going on at The Church at Clayton Crossings, and some fun facts to help us get to know one another.

 What I’m thinking:

A note from John: Every now and then I come across an article that (1) I wish I wrote, and (2) addresses the very thing God has been teaching me. While it’s true that I’m out of the country, copying and pasting the article below is not my version of “phoning it in”, but my way of preparing you for what lies ahead (thankfully, someone else wrote it for me!). I hope it encourages you as much as it does me. More than that, I hope it lights a fire in your heart! Keep reading –  you’ll find information about our upcoming gathering on December 6 for people who are prayerfully considering becoming a community group leader at C@CC.

The following is (barely) adapted from a blog post by Rick Warren:

 Do you remember the story of the paralytic in Luke 5 – where four men broke through the roof of a synagogue to lower their friend to Jesus? Sometimes it takes something that radical to lead someone to Jesus! Here’s a refresher:

Just then some men came, carrying on a mat a man who was paralyzed. They tried to bring him in and set him down before Him. 19 Since they could not find a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the mat through the roof tiles into the middle of the crowd before Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” (Luke 5:18-20, HCSB)

Sometimes it just takes the caring, consistent love of a small group of Christians to be the catalyst that points someone to Jesus. How can community groups at The Church at Clayton Crossings become the effective evangelism tools that God wants them to become?

Our community groups must care about people who don’t know Jesus 
The reason God used the four friends in Luke 5 is because they cared for the paralytic. Just like those four, the evangelistic mission of our groups needs to start with love. The number one reason Christians don’t share Christ with others is that they are too preoccupied with themselves.

Before you can care about others, you must become aware of them. Once a community group becomes aware of those who don’t have a relationship with Christ, they should start praying for them.

Our community groups should pray for three things:

  • an opportunity to share your faith in a non-threatening way
  • for God to soften their hearts
  • for God to soften the hearts of those in the group

Our community groups must believe God can reach the person
No one is hopeless. When the four friends looked at the paralytic’s condition, they could have responded in doubt: What could Jesus do? Instead, they believed God could heal him – they had faith. The Bible said the paralytic’s sins were forgiven when Jesus saw the faith of the four friends.

There are people paralyzed in our world who aren’t necessarily physically paralyzed but who have a paralyzed faith. Whether they’re paralyzed by doubts, loneliness, fear or anything else, the result is the same – they need the faith of others.

In a sense, they don’t have enough faith to believe, so the faith of our groups is going to have to bring them to Jesus.

Our community groups must make a plan
Although faith and prayer are important ingredients to bringing others to Jesus, you need to do something too. You need a plan. When the four friends saw the way to Jesus was blocked, they came up with a plan to get the paraplegic to Jesus. Your group needs a plan to bring people to Jesus. Without it, you won’t bring anyone to Christ.

Our community groups must overcome difficulties
When the four friends saw the path to Jesus blocked, they had every reason to feel discouraged, but they didn’t give up. They looked for another way to bring the man to Jesus.

Everybody gets discouraged at times. But in order to share Jesus with our friends, we must persist through those difficulties. I once heard of a group at a church who prayed for a lost friend for two years before that person made a commitment to Jesus. I’m sure that guy is glad they didn’t give up after a year and a half.

Our community groups need the courage to do something different
When faced with a discouraging situation, these four friends decided to do something different to get their friend to Jesus, they went through the roof! Sometimes we have to do something different to get people to Jesus as well.

Although you might not crawl through a roof to get someone to Jesus, you might host a party. For a small group in a San Diego church that meant buying season tickets to see professional football games. Besides buying their own tickets, the couples bought one extra ticket – for someone who didn’t know Jesus. That group brought 13 couples to Christ through that experience.

Our community groups must work together to get the job done
Have you ever tried to carry someone on a stretcher with only three people? It doesn’t work. If all four of the friends hadn’t helped, the paralytic would have fallen off the stretcher.

Some people will only come to Jesus through a group effort. Studies have shown that people come to Christ faster when they come through a supportive environment.

That’s why community groups are so essential in bringing people to Christ.

When you talk to someone at work, and it’s just you and that person, you’re the only witness. If you’re able to bring them to a group event – particularly one that is fun – they’ll go, “Wow, these people aren’t goofy. They aren’t religious nuts. They’re normal people.”

Our community groups must be willing to pay the cost to bring someone to Jesus
These four men wouldn’t have made a hole in the roof unless they were willing to fix it. They had to pay the cost of bringing their friend to Jesus.

Bringing a friend to Jesus always requires sacrifice. For many groups that means sacrificing their own comfort within the group. Many people have become so comfortable within their group that they are afraid of adding new people and messing up the group dynamics.

Before our community will come to Jesus, they need to see those in our congregations get out of their comfort zones and seek to connect with those God has placed in their path.

Interested in finding out what it takes to lead a community group? Email John Sanders to register for the community group leader training event on Sunday, December 6 at 6:00 PM.