Getting into the Mess of People’s Lives

I don’t like messes! It is somewhat therapeutic for me to say that but on the other hand I am aware that trying to avoid messes can be a very difficult and sometimes tall order. I am a father of two girls who both like to make a mess on a daily basis. I am also a Pastor and in my job I am required to deal with people who are not always at their best. I am asked to insert myself into their mess! For me that is not always a pleasant experience but one that we need to be comfortable embracing. I have been very challenged by this idea recently as I see in the life and ministry of Jesus no hesitation to insert and in fact place himself directly into people’s messes.

In the gospel of John chapter 9 we see Jesus directly get involved in the life of a man who had simply been born blind. His disciples were simply passing by and took the occasion to ponder the ramifications of our sin upon our bodies. Jesus turns the focus of the discussion off the circumstances that resulted in this man being blind into healing him and the act of the healing being a catalyst for further dialogue between Jesus and the Jewish leaders who were seeking a way to get rid of him. Notice how Jesus inserts himself into this man’s life.

Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing” John 9:6-7 (ESV)

 And after literally getting himself dirty by ‘spitting on the ground and making mud with his saliva’ Jesus continued to be involved in this man’s life because his healing created another set of circumstances that saw this man standing before the Pharisees and answering questions.

Sometimes getting involved in someone’s life does not end with one-act, but may require a longer commitment. This is the part that is troubling for many of us. We like the kettle outside of the retail stores at Christmas because we simply throw some money into it and go on our way. Volunteering to go down to the Salvation Army and actually having to spend time with people and getting to hear their story. Too messy! The reality is that a majority of the people who walk into our churches each Sunday have one mess or another going on in their life. Some people have done a really good job of hiding their mess so that it’s hidden from plain sight, but it’s still there! We need to be comfortable with messy people and be willing to insert ourselves into their lives because the end result is life change. The man born blind saw his life changed because Jesus was willing to get messy are you?

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What Makes a Good Small Group Pastor? – Part 4 of the Changing Nature of the Small Group Pastor’s Role

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Many men & women who are currently serving in full-time time ministry often entertain the thought of ‘jumping into small group ministry’. Often this is coming from a place of frustration with their current role or the ‘warm-fuzzies’ they have experienced from being in small group. As Ben Reed so nicely wrote in a blog article[1] “But being a groups pastor isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Or if that’s not your thing…it’s not all coffee and bagels. Turns out, this is hard work…” Small groups deal with people and their mess! As Heather Zempel has noted in her excellent book “Community is Messy”[2] that many were ‘stirred’ into getting involved in small groups because of a talk, sermon, or lesson that focused on how great community is and how it fits neatly into the “New Testament” Pattern. But then something happened – people came to our groups! Whenever people are involved things always get messy! Why? Because people bring their hurts, hang-ups, and habits into our perfect communities. Without getting too far off track discussing the nature of Small Group Ministry and how to negotiate the challenges of ministering to people in their mess, the question of what makes a good Small Group Pastor is still on the table.

 

What makes a good Small Group Pastor? In my opinion, the role of the Small Group Pastor must be filled with someone who posses a make-up and gifting that is vastly different today than it was even just a few years ago. The challenge is finding candidates who posses the right qualifications and makeup to be successful in the role. Bill Donahue & Russ Robinson have correctly observed[3], “Small group point leaders aren’t churned out by the seminaries. The position is still under development across many churches and there’s not a vast pool of veteran small group champions looking for employment.” So what characteristics or qualities make a good Small Groups Pastor? We answer this question by looking at gifting and core competencies over the next several days.

 

Question: What qualities or characteristics make someone a good Small Group Pastor?

 

 

 

 

[1] Ben Reed, “10 things Nobody Told Me about Being a Small Group Pastor” November 26, 2012. www.benreed.net

[2] Zempel,Heather . “Community is Messy” . IVP. (2012) . 23-24.

[3] Donahue, Bill & Robinson, Russ. Building a Life-Changing Small Group Ministry. Zondervan.(2012), 50.