The backbone of Watermark’s structure is our community groups, so our External Focus team regularly thinks about ways community groups can serve together. (And of course, one of the core aspects of a Community Group is engaging missionally.)
So today, we wanted to offer seven tips for turning your Community Group into an Externally Focused Community Group:
1. Pray (and Watch)
From the outset, don’t miss the opportunity to bring this before the Lord. Ask Him to show your group the needs around you. Ask Him to reveal how He’s uniquely gifted your group. Ask Him to provide ways to make a true impact as a group, and to grow together in the process.
And then don’t forget to watch for His answer! Check in with each other regularly to see any needs, people, or organizations He might be guiding you to impact.
Tip: Download this handout – it’s an easy way to talk through these ideas with a community group!
2. Learn Together
As you begin your externally focused journey, find ways to learn God’s truth about serving others. This may involve working through a book of the Bible (like James) or certain biblical passages (like Isaiah 58) that discuss this aspect of the Christian life. You may choose to work through a book – like the new When Helping Hurts: The Small Group Experience. You could listen to messages together from our teachers or from other Christian leaders.
Whatever format your group normally uses to learn together, there are good options for discovering God’s heart for impacting others.
3. Start Serving
You don’t need to have all this figured out to just get started. Our list of Ministry Partners provides a menagerie of strong, vetted, trusted organizations. But you’re also encouraged simply to look around you – the needs around you are plentiful! Or there might be a great organization in your own backyard that is already reaching people well.
Your group can start by purposefully serving together once a month, once a quarter, etc.. Of course, you shouldn’t limit your “living missionally” to those moments, but it’s a great way to get started together… and to light a fire in each member. If every member is already serving somewhere regularly, that’s great, and it’s not vital for the group to serve together if that’s the case. But serving together is an awesome way to grow your relationships, spur one another on in service, and help those who aren’t serving externally to find ways to do that.
4. Join with the Already-serving
Maybe someone in your community group is already serving externally – or you know someone else who is. If that’s the case, why not jump in with that person- at least occasionally? It would be a huge encouragement to join in his “mission,” and it would give the group better insight into this part of his life!
5. Appoint a “Service Chair”
Many community groups have a sort of “Social Chair,” someone who organizes the group’s “fun” activities. Why not do the same thing with serving? Appoint someone to locate great service opportunities and work out the schedule.
(Hint: That person – or anyone who wants the “inside scoop” on serving opportunities – should sign up for our monthly Straightforward Service list…)
After you spend time serving together, be sure to talk about the experience. And don’t just ask, “What did you think?,” but have specific, purposeful questions to help unpack the experience. Remember, you’re learning as a group AND learning as individuals, and God can use these experiences to grow each of you as servants. Each member might even find a place to serve regularly (and not just with the group)!
7. Let Us Help
This is what the External Focus team is here for! We’d love to connect you with resources, ministry partners, advice, ideas, and anything else you need to turn your Community Group into an Externally Focused Community Group. So if we can help, just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.