Thursday, January 23, 2014
Community is where wisdom takes shape
Jethro advises his son-in-law Moses to care for people in small groups with what we today would call coaching support available to each small group leader
WE SAW yesterday how Noah heard from God and set about building a vast vessel – it would be interesting to calculate the tonnage – without others around him to advise. This marks an exception to the principle. However, Noah didn’t have others to turn to – and there was not only detail in God’s instruction to him, but a particular close partnership: “I am bringing the flood of water… but I will establish My covenant with you…” (Genesis 6:17-18)
Moses, also, probably felt that he didn’t have others to involve. People came to him all day, every day, asking for advice and judgments, until his father-in-law gave him a bit of a talking to about the principle of delegation – establishing the judging task across a number of appointed wise people.
Exodus 18:14 and 17
Now when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said: “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge and all the people stand about you from morning until evening?… The thing that you are doing is not good.”
The first principle here is that of not letting all the responsibility funnel down to one person.
There is also a second one here generally known as the ‘Jethro Principle’ in the contemporary church of small groups. That is about establishing realistic limits for the span of care that a person can carry, and not letting them carry it without the backup of leadership (or coaching) assistance.*
Select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over [the people] as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.
In a small church, there is a tendency to overlook good Biblical principles. We should simplify, but not to the point of removing the principle! This is a barrier to growth that keeps many churches small. If we are to effectively grow a counter-cultural movement called the Christian church, it’s a good idea if we seek to do it God’s way – and that means not just thinking ‘congregation’ but intentionally thinking ‘small groups’ which encompass everybody.
*Reference: Bill Donohue and Russ Robinson, Building a Life-Changing Small Group Ministry, Zondervan: Chapter 3