Picking up where I left off, of course, as soon as I revealed the five words summarizing my approach to helping the men in my groups with their spiritual formation, they wanted an explanation of each. Though I went into greater detail with them then, I will give you only a brief summary description, however one that will be clarifying all the same.
I began with “TRUTH”. The difference in what I was doing with my group is that I was giving them truth to study on their own – Bible texts, reading material, verses to memorize, etc., and having them come to group having already searched for the truth, so as to utilize it in our meeting. Our other church small groups had no requirement for outside preparation and therefore, had to use their time together dispensing the truth of God’s Word.
Next, I explained “EQUIPPING”. Equipping is the result of massaging the truth (already learned) until it becomes understandable and usable. This takes place through appropriate question asking, interaction, and modeling.
For instance, my guys will come to group on our third week of the year having spent the week learning from their assignment how to personally worship God. I will have given them the assignment to participate in such worship each day that week. I anxiously await their evaluation regarding how their personal worship had been that week.
Their response to how it had been will perhaps best be summarized by the words “pretty good”. Then after 20 or so minutes allowing them to observe me having my personal worship during our meeting time, the response will routinely be better described by “wow!” I will then ask, “Did you see me do anything differently than you were instructed to do?” After agreeing that I had not, their comments are usually something like, “But now I understand. Now I get it.” They needed to see me doing it.
The next word, “ACCOUNTABILITY”, required some explanation because, biblically speaking, it is much different from how the word is used by most today. Most think of accountability as merely asking hard questions and challenging bad behaviors. In reality, that is the description of behaviorism. Christians should be focused on the heart first, watching behavior follow as a result. Biblical accountability may ask hard questions and even challenge bad behavior, but it goes further – it looks for the sin beneath the sin and is uprooted through repentance.
The fourth word is “MISSION”. It applies to the commitment to take on the mission of Jesus, both as He preached (Word) and healed (deed). Believers are to do the same. It’s not one or the other, but both. I shared with our staff that to the degree I equipped those men, (whose names were on the board), to live missionally where they live, work and play, to that degree I will predict them hungering for God’s Word and growing to maturity.
The last word is “SUPPLICATION”. This simply refers to prayer. I am often asked, “Why not use the word ‘prayer’”? My answer is simple. It’s because TEAMS sounds better than TEAMP! In our group time, we are learning how to pray with each other, for each other, and for all that God’s Word instructs us to pray.
Now the last question remaining to be answered is “What makes TEAMS when partnered with life-on-life such a difference maker?”