It is rewarding when men who are far from God turn to the Lord. Jim began to minister to unchurched men in our city just three weeks into our discipleship group. He wanted to replicate our discipleship outside the church.
Jim recruited two buddies who were not attending church, and together they began to study God’s Word, share their struggles, pray and care for one another. Three years later, what started with two men has grown to 20 men who were once far from God, but who now meet weekly in three separate groups.
In a recent interview, the men explained what they most value about their groups. They said they hungered for male friendship, particularly as they got older. They desired an informal agenda, allowing them to focus on whatever needs a friend had. They wanted to hear what God had to say in Scripture. They needed a safe place where they could let down the façade and talk about anything. One called it an “unfiltered” opportunity to share with others who understood and cared. They found all of these things in their groups.
Like all of us, COVID-19 limited their groups from meeting. So their groups opted to stay in touch through text messages. This past week, they couldn’t stand being apart any longer. So one group of seven met in the open driveway of a member’s home while socially distancing.
It was a sweet time of renewed fellowship in which they spent several hours catching up, talking about challenges as well as victories, and praying for one another. Next week they’ll continue the outdoor meetings as they begin to worship and study the Word together “live” once again.
What if more of us extended similar invitations to those outside our church buildings? Such groups might help people come back to our churches. What if we did not insist that people attend our services, but helped them to develop into house churches where they are?
The potential to recoup for the kingdom those who have walked away is real but largely untapped. Sometimes all it costs is our willingness to engage them in non-traditional ways in hopes of leading them back to worshipping the Lord. About 16 men who previously had trusted Christ but had walked away from church are back praying, studying Scripture, caring for each other and sharing their faith.
Because Jim intentionally worked his spheres of influence, inviting men to his home to seek the Lord, he is helping reconcile people to God. The joy, fellowship and empowerment that Jim experiences pale to that which he will experience at the coming of our Lord Jesus. On that day these men will be Jim’s hope, joy and crown of boasting in the presence of the Lord (1 Thessalonians. 2:20). Not only will they be a reason for his reward, but they will be what most glorifies the Father (John 15:8).
Could God use you to extend the reach of the church into your community?