Archive for the ‘Equipping’ Category

Redemption Groups Catalyze the Whole Church

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Several years ago, the elders at Mars Hill Church in Seattle knew we needed to overhaul our counseling ministries. We had lots of different groups for people with various issues: those dealing with habitual sexual sin, emotional wounds from past abuse, substance abuse, and several more. Each one had its own curriculum, its own leadership system, and its own night of the week in one of our buildings. It was getting difficult to keep all of it working together harmoniously.

Those were some of challenges we meant to address when we started dreaming up what would eventually become Redemption Groups: intense small groups that dig deep into difficult and seldom-discussed areas of life, such as abuse, addiction, and trials of all sorts. You can learn more about how Redemption Groups came to be in the preface of Redemption.

What we didn’t fully realize at the time, though, was how much Redemption Groups would catalyze the community of the whole church, equipping the saints for the work of ministry, and boosting our capacity to care for one another. So not only is Mars Hill the kind of place where people with deep hurts and deeply engrained sin patterns can find hope and healing in Jesus, but increasingly, they can also find brothers and sisters in Christ who are prepared to walk alongside them. By God’s grace, this is becoming normal for us, even in a very large church.

Recently, I met with some members of a core team who were preparing to launch Redemption Groups at one of our newer Mars Hill churches. We talked about their impressions of Redemption Groups. Most of them had never been in one, but I suspected they’d heard enough to form an impression. I heard words like “intense, transparent, experience, gospel.” One comment especially stood out to me, probably because it came with tears: honesty. This woman’s impression was that, finally, she was in an honest church and she wanted to be part of a ministry that promoted such honesty. This woman had never been in a Redemption Group, but she had already experienced the blessing of being a member of an honest church.

We’ve learned that our biblical counseling ministries, with Redemption Groups being the prime example, are not ministry silos for “those” people—they are for all us. First of all, because we all find ourselves in times of need, and God invites us to His lavish grace and mercy especially in those times (Hebrews 4:16). But secondly, because fruitful biblical counseling in our local churches has been changing the way we talk to one another, not just within those ministries, but across all of our locations and the many little communities that comprise our whole church. Our relationships are growing deeper. We’re becoming better equipped to help one another. Finally, it’s not really about Redemption Groups; it’s about what Redemption Groups are about. Afshin Ziafat, a friend and pastor at Providence Church who also runs Redemption Groups, summarized it well: it’s about the real you meeting the real Jesus.

This blog post originally appeared on the Grace and Truth blog at

Don’t Launch Redemption Groups Too Soon

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

If your church hasn’t already established a strong small groups ministry, it’s probably too soon to launch Redemption Groups.

Redemption Groups are designed to catalyze redemptive community, not to stand alone as the primary vehicle for it, nor to compete as an alternative. If your church is small and still establishing a culture of redemptive community, we’d encourage you to focus on training, equipping and casting vision for the small group leaders and the community as a whole, with the objective of strengthening your existing small groups.

We’re looking for two fruits to come from this strategy:

  1. Some members of your community, such as some of the small group leaders, will surface as likely candidates for Redemption Group leadership. You’ll notice that they are particularly gifted for counseling ministries.
  2. When small groups are healthy and thriving, they will reproduce leaders, which will allow those who are particularly gifted for counseling ministries to focus their leadership contributions on Redemption Groups.

Otherwise, you run two risks:

  1. Redemption Groups could take over as the normal mode of redemptive community in the church, which could ultimately weaken the vitality and vision of your small groups.
  2. You could siphon off your strongest small group leaders, redirecting them to Redemption Group leadership before they’ve sufficiently reproduced themselves.

Waiting to launch Redemption Groups doesn’t mean you wait to introduce deep, redemptive conversations to your community. It may just mean you plant the seed in your existing small groups, cultivate it there, and then look to launch your Redemption Groups out of the fruit that this bears.

Equipping Counselors, Heart First

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Hands down, the most important aspect of equipping a Redemption Group Leader is in the heart (character), not the hands (competency, skill). Bob Kellemen captures this in his contribution to a blog series on equipping counselors over at the Biblical Counseling Coalition. He says: “competence without character is like one corpse practicing cosmetic surgery on another corpse.

Here’s a snapshot of his 4C’s, the four parts of equipping a biblical counselor, with Heart heading the list.

Read the full post here.