I love watching my grandchildren grow through physical, mental, relational and emotional stages of growth. They are each growing through them differently, but there are generalities that are fun to watch. I also love to hear them talk. I’m focused when I get to see them and listen closely, because I know great things are going on inside of their brains to make neuron connections and grow! The same things are true for watching people grow spiritually.
The home group is designed to help people grow spiritually. And, the leaders must be thinking about multiplication as they prepare for and lead it. When they think multiplication, they will think about the three ingredients necessary for growth:
- God’s Word
- God’s Spirit
- their faith dependence on the Lord (seen in prayer, trust, or implementation of God’s will).
Therefore, the home group leader will be looking for opportunities to help each person grow spiritually through the stages of spiritual growth. Keep these five things in mind:
First, the participants must be thinking. It’s easy to attend a large group and be in “brain-neutral.” And the speaker has no idea what the people are thinking, because he has no audible or visual feedback (their eyes may be open, but that is not a promise of anything!) Solomon wrote, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Pro. 23:7 NKJ) Thinking reflects who the person is, and everyone needs to be changed from his status of living like an unbeliever (in sin), to holy living. Therefore, he must renew his thinking.
Secondly, the participants must renew their mind. Whether in a large group worship service, fellowship group or home group, we communicate God’s living Word, so the Holy Spirit can renew the participants mind. Paul wrote, “…and be renewed in the spirit of your mind…” (Eph. 4:23 NKJ) He made it very clear that we were not to be conformed to this world, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Rom. 12:2 NKJ) Therefore, the home group leader’s objective is to help that process of transformation. But, the leader does not know what someone is thinking, unless he is talking!
Thirdly, the participants must be talking. Paul expressed how he wanted to do right and didn’t want to do wrong, but did, “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” (Rom. 7:19 NKJ) Because of the difficulty of right thinking and talking and doing, there must be practice! The goal is words of building up as Paul wrote, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Eph. 4:29 NKJ) So why do you need them talking? Why can you not just trust that you are giving good information?
Fourthly, you are seeking their transformation. Paul made that clear in Romans 12:2 above. And Jesus made it clear that growth comes by means of God’s Word, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17 NKJ) The Holy Spirit provides regeneration at salvation, but also a renewing daily process, “…not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved [delivered] us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” (Tit. 3:5 NKJ). AND, both transformation and renewing is of the heart. But how do you know what is in the heart?
Fifthly, you know their heart, by what they say. Participants can choose to cover up what is really in their heart. But in casual conversation when they are not under scrutiny and they are relaxed, you can get a good idea of what is in their heart (far better than if they are silent!) as Jesus said,
18 “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. (Matt. 15:18-19 NKJ)
If participants are not talking, you don’t know what they are thinking. The more a person talks, the clearer the picture is of what is in their heart.
Now of course, a leader will talk to establish credibility and leadership. As the leader leads, he will talk less and less, in order to guide the discussion of others talking. Jesus was the master at asking questions. He asked people and His disciples questions in order to get them thinking and so they would understand what was in their heart. For example, the Lord asked Adam, “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9). He knew where Adam was (He is omniscient), but He wanted Adam to acknowledge he was not in the right place (He should have been in Bible class, but had skipped out in fear!).
There is a balance of course, because there may be many things the home group leader needs to talk about in order to teach, guide or channel the discussion. Yet, always keep in mind, “If they are not talking, you don’t know what they are thinking.”