The OCF mission is to engage military leaders in Biblical fellowship and growth to equip them for Christ-like service at the intersection of faith, family, and profession. One element of seeing military community positively impacted through Christ-like leaders should be a network of small groups.
This network provides opportunities for more people to be involved and more leaders to gain experience. It also lays a larger numerical foundation for other special events and establishes a critical mass, which serves to encourage believers.
Believe it or not, the most difficult local fellowship to lead and maintain is the single small-group fellowship. It always seems to hover on the verge of disbanding with the next set of PCS moves. Furthermore, it keeps the leadership base small so that a few people have to cover all the needs and interests. People wear out when that happens. On the other hand, people are rejuvenated when they are a part of a growing, dynamic, Christ-centered fellowship.
Don’t let your lack of vision or selfish clinging to a group of close friends cause you to be shortsighted in your vision of ministry. Don’t be overly concerned with whether you can lead the larger fellowship. If you plan to grow right from the start and take the intermediate steps of developing new leaders, you can expect God to help provide the assistance you need. See this as a step of faith and be alert to see the ways God will provide. This is the kind of faith that pleases God and encourages the believer.
10 issues to consider
There are some practical issues you will need to consider as you embark on this vision. Here are 10 that will help you see possible solutions rather than overwhelming obstacles.
1. From the start, think in terms of two leaders per group. It is likely that the very group of which you are a part began with two key individuals.
2. If the two leaders in your primary group are close personal friends, address this issue early on so that the closeness does not become a hindrance to dividing and multiplying. There are plenty of other opportunities for close friends to get together.
3. As your group expands, think in terms of having and developing four key individuals. They do not need to be equally qualified, but should have basic qualifications (to include a vision) and a willingness to assume responsibility. If along the way, you took upon yourself most of the responsibilities, you will have burned a bridge in front of you. Not only will people not become trained through experience, but they also will become trained to think that you do everything. You are unique and important, but avoid becoming indispensable.
4. Avoid the temptation to move to a larger structure (home or chapel) only to make it possible for your group to grow larger and stay together in one study. If moving to a bigger home allows you to meet together for singing and refreshments but affords the opportunity to have two separate studies in different parts of the house or building, this can be an advantage to overcoming opposition to dividing the study. Doing so still has a major drawback in that you are not expanding through the use of different nights or different geographical locations.
5. You should have a growth plan. This should come out of a Pray, Discover, and Obey session. Having an overview plan for reference as you implement the plan should remove objections or reveal them for what they are—shortsighted or selfish.
6. Take advantage of new, experienced OCF members arriving in your area to grow the number of small groups. They may start out immediately as a new group or come to your group for a few weeks with the full intent of branching off with the parent group providing at least prayer support.
7. If you have significant people or numbers in your group who resist the division, consider finding two or three couples willing to do so and have a commissioning service for them. Send them out with your blessing.
8. As you review the format of your study—day, topic, childcare, etc.—be alert to opportunities to divide along important differences. Don’t view this as stubbornness on the part of some; see it as God giving you an opportunity to divide and multiply. There certainly is a biblical example in the sense of Paul and Barnabas.
9. Do plan to bring the groups together. This may be frequently at first and naturally settle into a more reasonable schedule as new relationships replace or augment old ones.
10. With multiple studies, institute team leader meetings if you haven’t already done so. This will keep the plan before you, offer an opportunity to coordinate, and provide a forum to assist in the training of new leaders so that the process continues.