Proclaiming the Bible is more than just preaching
Just because we are small group leaders (life group leaders in the context of my church) does not mean that we are not involved in the process of proclaiming the bible. For most part of my leadership journey in church, I have served as a lifegroup leader. It is only until recent years that I get opportunities to teach and preach in a public setting. So does that mean that I have not been proclaiming the word until recently? I would say no. As I reflect back on my own journey, I must say that there are two mindsets that we, as lifegroup leaders, can take note when it comes to proclaiming the bible.
It is more than just preaching.
1. My life group is as much a faith community as my church.
My senior pastor once told all the small group leaders that small groups constitute an important part in the local church. This is because if the church is persecuted one day, members of the church can still gather as a faith community in their lifegroups, since these are more mobile and can easily be gathered discreetly in homes. In fact to demonstrate this, we recently had this thing called Blackout. During the Blackout weekends, we stopped gathering as a church on Sundays. Instead, we gather as lifegroups instead.
This means that the lifegroups should function like a faith community just like how our local church functions as a faith community. This also means that all lifegroup leaders should hold the mindset that one day they might have to step up as the “pastor” of their groups (doesn’t that make you excited?)
And this may happen on a one-on-one basis as well. One incident that happened recently illustrates this well. Angelina was meeting up with another friend one evening to do a Bible study. Towards the end of the study, the Holy Spirit prompted her to give an “altar call” and challenged the friend to take certain actions with regard to her life. For me, this shows that within the gathering of believers, there is the potential to proclaim the Bible one-on-one.
The implication is this: as lifegroup leaders, we must not see proclamation of the Bible as just something that our pastors do. Instead, we must see preaching as part and parcel of guiding and discipling God’s people. It is our responsibility to the faith community that God roots us in to proclaim the Word and impact our sheep for the Kingdom of God.
2. Proclaiming the Bible is a calling for everyone in the church
Our commission is to make disciples of all nations and teaching them all that Jesus had taught us. This means that we must be prepared to proclaim the word of God to the flock that God has entrusted to us. This is regardless whether we are leading a small group of 5 or a congregation of 5,000.This is the responsibility of every Christian on the face of the earth.
Likewise, Paul urged in his first epistle to Timothy to “proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2, NRSV). While this exhortation was directed at Timothy who was delegated by Paul to oversee the churches in Ephesus, it continues to remain relevant to everyone today alike. In fact, the Greek word for “proclaim,” which some translations translate as “preach,” implies more than preaching. The imperative is to proclaim the message of Christ to our churches and small groups so that they may continue to grow in their understanding of the gospel.
Therefore, even when I was holding the position of a lifegroup leader, I took good care to ensure that I proclaimed the message of the gospel to my members. There was once when I took roughly one year to slowly proclaim Romans to them. I see the proclamation of the Word in such a setting the same as it would have been in a pulpit.
Lifegroup leaders all share the same responsibility of proclaiming the Word as their church pastors to their members. This is not a duty that we devolve to our church pastors. It is one that we need to take up consistently. There are no “buts” here.