Small Groups For Hurting People


Supernaturally Natural: Rethink The Way We, The Church, Worships Corporately - Part XXVII

from Supernaturally Natural: Chapter 15 manuscript by Anthony Bachman

Bipolar Bear ClubWe need the mindset of small groups for hurting people

Why do we have the mindset that small groups have to have Bible study somewhere in their agenda when they meet?  I contend that you can have an effective small group for hurting people and never once read a scripture.

I found myself in desperation when my wife went through a mental breakdown and was labeled “bipolar”.  I had no idea what “bipolar” meant, nor the nature of the disease. As she digressed physically and mentally, all responsibility for our daily existence fell upon me, the caregiver, the spouse. I tried to get help from local mental health agencies, but found most had been closed or their services did not apply to my situation.  I felt abandoned, alone, distraught, confused, and directionless.  I did not know what to do.  It looked like I may have to extend my Family Leave of Absence from my occupation because of her declining health. Our once natural quality lifestyle had descended into a maelstrom of hopelessness, loneliness, and isolation, and it appeared to me that even the supernatural could not penetrate it.

Then a cousin of mine got the idea to empty out my email directory and invite everyone to a meeting with a two fold purpose: 1) to get me back to work; 2) to aid my wife in her recovery.  The Bachman Bipolar Bear Club was birthed out of my need, and stuffed white polar bears were given to everyone who became a club member. No one in the group worked in the mental health field.  A minister and his wife, personal friends, offered a listening ear. Others just stayed with my wife to free me to run errands. Some made connections, one to a church who was willing to take an offering for me to off set unpaid medical bills.  Everyone helped brainstorming ideas, making contacts, and encouraging us. Caring people who were willing to love us unconditionally invaded the once natural lifestyle of hopelessness, loneliness, and isolation. Although we opened with an invitation to the Holy Spirit to be a part of our group and prayed at the conclusion of our meeting, we did no “Bible Study”.  The Rhema Word, the living word, came forth to help my wife and I through a difficult time in our lives.  It seemed almost supernatural when 8 weeks later I returned to my job, and Deb began for the first time to make progress toward a recovery!

We must change our mindset that people need to be brought into the church, not the church going out into the world where the people are lost.  The Church can meet in community buildings where the community people are, so maintenance of a building doesn’t becomes the natural thing to do taking up much of our time and resources. 

Ask to meet in neighbor’s homes once a week even if they are not Christian. Tell them you will take care of the rest.  If they have the gift of hospitality, allow them to use it!  I was saddened when I tried to get a small group ministry started in my home church, but hardly anyone would step forward and open up their home in hospitality.  If Christians won’t open their homes, then go to non-Christian homes who will, or hit the streets.  Wow, the church small group becoming “homeless” because they do not have a “church building” in which to meet! That sounds exciting when you think outside the box and allow the Holy Spirit to take over!