The NEXT Conference at Saddleback Church a few weekends ago was full of highlights – Lyman Coleman training small group leaders again, Bill Search teaching on recruiting techniques for ministries of different sizes, Steve Gladen explaining the Saddleback model, a personal discussion with Reid Smith and the amazing work Christ Fellowship is doing with small groups. One thing I can’t shake out of my head is the session taught by Erwin McManus. He had one quote in particular that deeply connected with me.

“You can’t dream for the future if you are stuck lamenting the past”

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That phrase has been processing inside me for nearly a week and the implications are staggering. For the better part of 30 years, I’ve been busy not so much lamenting my past but trying to interpret my past. It’s almost impossible to move forward when you don’t know where you’ve come from! How can I dream and live the life God is calling me into when I’ve no idea of who I really am…when there is little to no self awareness? This isn’t some psychological mumbo-jumbo, this is being present with yourself so that you might be present with God. Augustine says it well,

How can you draw close to God when you are far from your own self? Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know thee.

Thankfully, God is unyielding in His wild pursuit so that I may know Him deeply and intimately. I’ve been on a journey with the Serendipity team and through them along with the Holy Spirit and other mentors, I’ve learned to connect the dots of my past in order to embrace the dreams, the future, and the crucial role in the Larger Story that I’ve been invited to enter into.

What does this have to do with small group leaders? As Ron Keck appropriately asserts, “You can only invite someone on a journey you’ve been on yourself.” As small group leaders, it’s vital for us to be on an expedition of the heart so that we are able to invite our group into this wonderfully redemptive journey. Many of our group members will be stuck lamenting their past and it is our calling to invite them into something more! Now I am NOT advocating we minimize a wound – it’s so important to allow someone to lament the loss of a relationship, dream, job, etc., but we must not allow them to end their journey there. Calling them into a great adventure and inviting them to dream again is a heroic and noble responsibility and an offer than often can only come from a deep fellowship.

My challenge for you, and me, is to make sure you are on a journey so that you can offer this invitation to others in your community. Here are some questions to ask yourself and God that might help you map out where you are and begin to call others into the adventure:

  1. When was the last time you were moved deeply by a song, piece of art, movie, or…moment?
  2. What are your deepest dreams and who have you shared these with?
  3. What are the messes in your life?
  4. Who is it that you are becoming?
  5. Honest love that laments wounds and hurts is different from a business-like love that makes happiness and mutual benefit its center. What false beliefs or forces have encouraged you to keep your honest thoughts away from God?

I would love for you to share some of the ways you have helped invite group members into the journey? Click here and leave a reply!!