by Jared Musgrove
We adults have a lot to learn. One of the fantastic opportunities we have as small group leaders is to lean into the normal phases of adult transformation. Because isn’t that what we are all hoping and praying and working toward in a small group? To see lives transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. No matter the person’s age or life stage.
There are so many opportunities for leading an inter-generational small group. At the forefront, such a group looks a lot more like the body of Christ with varied ages and stages and backgrounds and ethnicities and ranges of walks with God in the living room. Together. For the gospel. That’s the immediate opportunity and your strategy can be to call this out at the start of your first night of group. And again on the second night and on into the second year. For however long the Lord has you together, never let your inter-generational group members lose the wonder of Christian unity across the ranges of our lives and experiences with Him.
Transformation in childhood is so different than what we as adults of all ages experience. Adult transformations tend to come not just from a new idea or knowledge, but a life lived, directed by truth. Know your Bible. And don’t forget to live your Bible. In the company of spiritual friends.
Small group is an essential environment for this type of adult transformation via life-on-life disciplemaking.
Here’s what we can know and pray and work toward in our inter-generational groups: Every adult, regardless of age, transforms via three core elements that correspond with our Christian faith and the Bible’s story:
A new idea encountered (John 3:18, Romans 12:1, Phil. 4:8)
This is Jesus with the crowds, perhaps even the 70 who regularly walked with Him. This is a sermon about that affected someone in the group. Or maybe a confession from a group member that signals to another that there is a way that seems right to man but in the end leads to destruction. Maybe a group member shares about a population in your city who need help. You were never before aware of these things.
Encountering can also offer a solution to the problem. Freedom, emancipation, is the main theme of this beginning transformation by the renewing of the adult mind, regardless of age (Romans 12:1-2). This is where the Philippians 4:8 command to think on “whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable… excellent” begins.
This is where the gospel begins to take root. Where you “know” that your old self was crucified, you believe that if you’ve died with him then you will live with him, you know that death no longer has dominion over him (Romans 6:6-11, 14-23). You know that you know. You are strengthened in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith (Ephesians 3:16).
But it cannot end there. No adult truly thinks or transforms alone.
Community as core (Ephesians 4:1ff)
This is Jesus with the 12 disciples. At times even just with Peter, James, and John. This is the small group where honest questions are asked and answered forthrightly, wrestling and verbal processing can be done out loud and in a safe environment, admonishments occur based in personal love and concern for God’s design; the small group is where knowledge of God, self, and friends begins to form and transform the persons in the group.
This small group space is critical to how adults, of any age, conform more into the image of Christ. When you have an inter-generational group, recognize that we are all learning, forming, and transforming along this path. The community is key. The soul is the center of the action. The people in your group, regardless of age, are relational creatures. Ephesians 4-6 help use see is that there is no significant transformation in a person apart from another person or persons. Each man or woman in that small group is in danger of being tossed to and fro, but when we speak the truth to each other in love we grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.
But you can’t walk it alone. You have to step out.
Transformed action taken (James 1:19-25; 2:14, 26)
In your walk with God there is always the encounter, the community, and then the action taken. This is the journey outward, but it can and must not leave the learning or the community behind. You take it with you into the work, in to sharing faith. This is the step of the path where you are not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, blessed in your action (James 1:25).
This is Jesus sending His disciples to the crowds and the nations. This is the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) on display in the group’s life together. This is sharing the gospel, together. It may be serving shut-ins or a local nursing home. It may be blessing first-year teachers at your local schools. It may be street evangelism at your local shops. It is your journey outward, together. And it must occur. We know that faith — and community — without works is dead.
So regardless the age range in your group, there’s work to do together. We are all on a pathway to further transform and become more like Christ today than yesterday. That’s the constant commonality in an intergenerational group. There’s always opportunity for growth in the gospel. It never gets old.