The following blog post is written by Amy Oessenich. Amy and her family belong to the Bucks County GCM.
Last year was my first experience of being a part of Soul Care. Although I have been part of small groups in the past, I had never been a part of a group so intentional and focused on openly discussing sin and encouraging one another to seek God in all areas of life. It was truly a wonderful and life-changing experience for me.
When I first learned of the new Discipleship Groups I, like everyone else, had a variety of emotions: fear, excitement, curiosity, anxiousness. My heart quickened at the realization that starting a new group and dedicating time to evangelize is a serious commitment that requires vulnerability and faith in God’s control.
After taking the time to process this new change and what it could look like, I came to the conclusion that I had to ask myself: who or what am I placing my trust in? When I processed the new groups on the basis of my own ‘ability,’ I was shaken. Can God really use me in ministering to my group and evangelizing? Is God disappointed in me that my initial reaction was not excitement? What happens if we ‘fail’? When I thought of the ‘success’ of discipleship group residing in myself I was only left with fear and anxiety. Thankfully, we serve a God who does not respond to our fear and anxiety in anger. He responds to our fear and anxiety by encouraging us to turn to Him and to no longer be afraid (1 Peter 5:6-7, Isaiah 41:13).
There are so many examples in the Bible of God using our weaknesses, such as fear, to demonstrate his power. The Apostle Paul explains that his weakness allowed him to experience the strength of God’s abundant grace and therefore praise God, rather than boast in his own ability (2 Corinth.11:30). Earlier in the book of 2nd Corinthians (4:7), Paul uses the beautiful analogy that we are like jars of clay filled with a treasure. The simple jar, our weakness, is not what attracts attention; it is the treasure, God’s greatness, which does. The purpose of our weakness is to illuminate the almighty power and sufficiency of God!
After bringing my anxieties to God and focusing more on his power than my weakness, I began to feel more excited about beginning Discipleship Groups. I began to hope and pray for the work that God can do through these groups! Binu’s message on Sunday strengthened my faith that we can trust God’s power to save unbelievers and to prepare us to preach the gospel. God does not promise that sharing our faith will be easy or that we will see immediate change. He does promise us that He will be with us and that He wants to work in us (Philippians 2:13).
My prayer for our church as we begin this exciting new journey is that we would lay down our weakness and fear at Jesus’ feet and become excited about the work that He can and will do through us. That we will truly recognize the amazing blessing it is to gather with other believers and share our faith; and that we would do so boldly and expectantly.
This passage is one that I want to commit to praying for our groups and I would encourage you to do so as well: “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:3-6)