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Redefining Worship in Small Group

When I hear that title, immediately this scene comes to my mind: Clarence Spragains, the small group leader, puts a CD into the CD + Cassette combo player he bought in 1994 and out comes either “Jesus take the Wheel” or “Saddle Up your Horses.” Clarence is singing at full blast, that other couple is halfway engaged doing the eyes-shut head bob while the other 9 people are frantically looking for the fire escape routes.

That fear, while maybe well founded, has kept me from exploring a more holistic understanding of worship in small group. I’m grateful for my friend, Summit worship pastor Jonathan Welch, who is challenging and partnering with me to think through these things. This post comes out of the conversations we’ve been having. Three truths I’m considering as we redefine worship for small groups:

1. All of Life is Worship.  This is Romans 12.1-2. Paul says we present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God and this is our act of worship. Worship is not confined to music. It is the posture, Paul says, of our entire life. As a leader, I’ve got to have worship as a goal for my group members. Thus discipleship is process by which we train worshippers. This should change the weight I give to my small group community, and the manner in which I prepare for it.

2. Worship is a rhythm of revelation and response. Scripture is replete with this rhythm. People see God’s holiness and respond in fear and repentance, then He reveals his forgiveness and they respond in thanksgiving and joy. I think group leaders have a chronic habit of only looking into revelation & not building out an opportunity to worshipfully respond to God in group life. For example, when your group studies Ephesians 2.1-10, do you take time to respond together to it’s gospel message? Do you take time to celebrate one another’s faith? When you study Hebrews 10.25 do you encourage one another? To remind one another of their new heritage? To share how God is bringing this to life? When you study James 5, do you pray? Really pray? True revelation should never come without response when making disciples

3. Exhortation Time: We’ve got to take baby steps. I believe small group leaders need to see the worship service as a training ground of some sort where you can model (with some adjustment) that gathering in your group…Without preaching 42 minute sermons. To help you jump start a culture of worship, it would serve you well to create a short moment where you can allow people to respond. For example, Jonathan’s group began exhortation time. This is where they know each week, for 5 minutes, their job is to talk about what God is doing in their lives (pros & cons). Giving structure to worship (not just lyric sheets) is key, especially young believers. Do you have a plan?

Just a few opening thoughts. more to come on this as we flesh it out.


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