By Eddie Mosley
It all began with a relationship. One of my friends and neighbors attends our church. A few of his neighbors (who I did not know) were having Fourth of July cookout and fireworks show, so he invited my family. It all began at 3 p.m. with appetizers and conversation. I discovered that most of them had recently moved into our neighborhood. By dusk we had grilled burgers, laughed, shared stories of life, relocations, job changes, kids and family. Then it happened — they discovered I worked at the church each of them drove by on their way to work. Fortunately, it was not a negative discovery for anyone. They actually began to share about their life experiences of attending or not attending church.
Around 9 p.m. I made my way back home thinking about what God may have planned next for this group. Our church was beginning a new study series in a month, so I began to pray for the couples by name daily over the next two weeks. I asked God to show me what my next step should be for these four couples.
Sunday at church I met another couple who also lived in our neighborhood. Monday a new neighbor was walking his dog in front of my house as I was getting my mail. While in the conversation, we realized he had visited our church. I knew there was something brewing in our neighborhood.
The next week I went to each home of those who had attended the cookout and the two new couples I had met the previous week. My purpose was to invite them to a cookout my wife and I were hosting in order to discuss starting a small group in our neighborhood. One couple I met had been involved in a small group in the past, so I asked them to help me lead the new small group.
The cookout was a success. Four couples attended, and one decided to host the next meeting. Another couple offered to visit the other two couples, give them a book and invite them to our first official meeting. And another couple offered to organize the menu. Right before my eyes God began a small group, and allowed me to watch as they shared the group ministry responsibilities. One man say, “I am 55 years old and I have never experienced this kind of community in my life! This is going to be great.”
If a Bible study group hasn’t come together naturally in your neighborhood, you’re probably asking these questions:
1. How do I reach my community?
Care for people and be outside more. Watch for God at work in conversations and opportunities. Of course cookouts, Easter egg hunts, fireworks, yard sales, being neighborly by helping others, borrowing and sharing, and praying daily for the names of people you meet are helpful.
2. How do I get my group to want to reach our neighbors?
Live the example of being concerned for and helping your neighbors. Talk often about your excitement and/or concern for neighbors. Share prayer concerns for specific neighbors and be neighborly. Ask them to help with the cookout, annual Easter egg hunt, or cleaning a neighbors gutter.
3. My group is already full. Where are we going to put the neighbors we reach?
Pray for God to raise up a leader among the neighbors. This is easier said than done, so I offered to lead the group for six sessions on another night of the week, so I don’t miss my small group. We hope to combine the two groups for parties and more neighborhood impact in the future.
Eddie Mosley is the small groups pastor of LifePoint Church in Smyrna, Tenn. His enthusiasm for seeing life change happen in the lives of individuals in his church, neighborhood and community is infectious. He is a sought after speaker for small group ministry as well as neighborhood impact. He has served as the regional co-leader for the Saddleback Small Group Network as well as on the Connecting in Communities: Understanding the Dynamics of Small Groups as well as articles for various magazines and web sites. When not immersed in the small group world, Eddie spends his time coaching baseball.