M. Scott Boren has written another helpful, thought provoking book on disciple making. I appreciate his simple, though meaningful, approach to small group life.
LEADING SMALL GROUPS IN THE WAY OF JESUS is a next-steps book for current small group participants. It answers, “What’s supposed to happen with groups?” and, “How do we actually share a meaningful life together, listening to and practicing the Way of Jesus?” Boren writes several insights and practices, things I resonate with and have even practiced a little. It feels great to read and resonate with something he’s been practicing.
I most resonated with Boren’s words about great questions and how curiosity (more my word than his) leads to nurturing disciples of Jesus. He writes:
“[We must] develop eyes to see and ears to hear. For that, leaders need to ask questions and foster conversations. When we ask good questions, we provide opportunities for people to discover for themselves the radical nature of the kingdom of God” (p.54).
“We do not [really] “make” disciples. We are formed as disciples in community together as the Spirit works in us” (p.61).
“We cannot force people to enter the way of Jesus. Many of them may agree with the vision, but that doesn’t mean they actually ‘hear’ it. This is where the questions are so important. Listen to how people respond. Who is already asking questions like these? Who is expressing frustration with the status quo? Who wants to talk about distinct ways of following Jesus? Who is willing to put some extra thought and time into answering these questions?
“The goal is to work with people who already have a sense of urgency to experience a different kind of group life. One way to determine this is to lead people through a short-term experience…” (p.62-63).
Boren would then add that by focusing on people who are already hungry and thirsty for the kingdom of God, nurturing their desire, kindling their flame within, will in turn bring life to others. This idea reminds me of Thomas Merton’s analogy of the Desert Fathers and Mothers who upon fleeing to the desert were not fleeing people but recognizing that society and the “christianity” present was a sinking ship. Someone needed to get a foot to shore in order to reach a hand out for rescuing. I think this continues to be the largest need in the western church today. Many who are faithful to Jesus wonder how the religiosity they see relates to Jesus and Jesus’ Way. It just isn’t connecting. Some say it’s a sinking ship and they’ve swam out to get a foot to shore, and then they’ll toss a rope our way.
If this is how you see it too, I think Boren’s book will make you happy.