Photo Credit: Jewels654 via CC
Actually, it was Zack’s first baptism. And I did the honors. For the first time.
For the last 4 months, a small crew of like-minded Christian fellas have been meeting at my house. It’s a typical church small group. Or community group. Or life group. Or whatever your church may call it. There are five members – Ross, Zack, John, Shane, and me. And each of us began attending the group for various, but similar reasons.
Ross works every Sunday so it is difficult to attend the typical Sunday gathering. But he wanted to intentionally engage with God and other people on a weekly basis. So he accepted my invitation to join this small group.
Zack recently re-engaged his faith and desired a way to interact with Scripture and Christian men as he is beginning again to live a life of following Jesus. So he accepted my invitation to join this small group.
Shane began following Christ for the first time not long ago and has been in a season of saying ‘yes’ to as many faith-based opportunities as he can. So he said yes to my invitation to join this small group.
John is one of the most faithful members of the young adult group at our church. He has been open to almost all the service projects, Bible studies, and community building opportunities I have thrown at him. So he said yes to my invitation to join this small group.
As for me, I work as a part-time “young adults pastor” in a church that places small groups in the center of its discipleship strategy, and I wanted to find a tangible way to meld my young adult leadership with our church’s vision for discipleship. So, I handed out invitations to join this small group.
I have long been a member of and a proponent of small group communities who study Scripture and live faithful lives together. But in recent years I’ve grown restless. I have grown less and less content with a small group that only studies the Bible. I’ve grown less and less content with a small group that only prays for each other. I have grown less and less content with a small group that is not open to new members joining, no matter how deep and vulnerable the long-term members have been with each other.
I’ve grown less and less content.
And the Holy Spirit has fueled that discontent within this newly formed group.
So I began asking God exactly what He wanted me to do about it. And he answered.
God seemed satisfied with my dissatisfaction, and began to lead me to lead them. So I sat down with Ross, Zack, John, and Shane individually and pitched a new vision for small group as we know it.
I want to be open to anyone and everyone. I want to make disciples. I want to see our group multiply into more and more groups that are open to anyone and everyone and that want to make disciples.
To my surprise, each man thought about it carefully, then despite their various concerns, responded with confidence: “I’m in. Let’s do it.”
Do we know exactly what it looks like to answer God’s command to make disciples? Do we know exactly what it will be like to swing our doors open to anyone who wants to come in? Do we know exactly what it looks like to help raise up other disciples who want to obediently make disciples?
But I can tell you this: our first conversation about baptism ended in our apartment complex pool.
The evening began with a group discussion about the Biblical meaning of baptism, and when all was said and done, Zack was baptized for the very first time. And I did the honors.
It was a huge moment in all our lives. We had all recently decided that if nothing else, we were going to be men who were obedient to the call of Christ. We were going to be disciples.
So on that night, obedient discipleship for Zack meant receiving baptism. For me, it meant administering baptism. For the other fellas, obedient discipleship was bearing witness to baptism and proclaiming this truth over us all:
“For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” (Romans 6:4)
Who knows what will happen in the weeks to come. But we’re going to do church. And if it is one half as powerful as this simple act of obedience, it is going to be a different kind of church than most of us have experienced. And it’s going to be life-changing. Stay tuned…