How Healthy is my AG?
By Danny Chua
What does a healthy small group – or Action Group (AG) – look like to you? Is it the AG which has members supporting one another faithfully decade after decade? Or is it the AG that sends and plants new communities over and over again? How do we know what the marks of a flourishing AG are?
We might think that these are questions we ask only in a course like the one we’ve just run – Basic AG Leaders Equipping (BAGLE). However, if you think really carefully, how many of us have asked these questions of our own AGs in recent times? If you haven’t asked such questions before, how would you answer them presently with your AG in mind? Shouldn’t we always be considering prayerfully how healthy our AGs are at any given moment?
If AGs are a mini picture of the larger Church family, then healthy AGs will reflect what the New Testament says about a healthy church one way or another. For instance, like the Apostle Paul, we aim to proclaim Jesus and admonish and teach one another with all wisdom so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ (Col 1:28). So, a healthy AG is one that helps every member grow towards Christ-maturity.
Why does maturity in Christ matter anyway? Paul tells us elsewhere that immaturity in the faith is a terrifying and confusing place to be in! It is as though we were infants (spiritually speaking), tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming
Imagine not knowing what to think about this issue or that problem; picture what life would look like feeling spiritually torn between the opinions of the world, your colleagues, or even different Christian leaders versus what the Lord Jesus Himself thinks.
Brothers and sisters, we are not just speaking of some lack of knowledge as such, or having ‘right answers’ to tough questions (though these are crucial, of course). What Paul is primarily concerned with – and therefore what we want to be concerned with – is relational understanding of Jesus or personal trust and confidence in Him for all of life.
That is why Paul says the goal in Christian maturity is “unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God” (Eph 4:13) or “endurance and patience with joy” (Col 1:11). These are all fruits of a thriving, living union with the Living Christ; in other words, a mature Christian walk. How wonderful it would be if our AGs were conducive communities geared towards this purpose and drawing others (newer Christians or those without community) in for the same end!
If these things are so basic and foundational to the life of the Church, then how much time and energy should we dedicate to them? How much resource, or money or attention is too much to ensure that each Zion Bishan member matures in loving relationship with Jesus?
This is why we take or strive to take seriously AG leader training and personal discipleship here, and that is why we ask our AG leaders or potential leaders to set aside substantial amounts of time for the BAGLE course which runs twice annually.
Here are some of the reflections from the participants from the course that has just concluded:
Dns Sherena Loh (AG15 – 1030am Congregation): Discipleship is to unlearn old lives of sin and learn Christ relationally and not just theoretically. This also requires us to get deep with fellow church members in bible study and be relational. I hope to encourage my AG 321 to build a Christ-centred companionship that encourages more authentic sharing.
Benjamin Tan (AG72 – 3pm Congregation): The course gave me a lot of time and space to reflect why I am considering to be an AG leader. I am reminded of how much I lack in my ability to love others and therefore the immense reliance I need to have on Christ. 2 Timothy 3:10-17 stood out for me in recognising the sufficiency of God’s Word, it’s necessity in the building up of myself and others to completeness and for equipping. The book (Zeal Without Burnout Book by Christopher Ash) provided was very helpful in reminding me that I am secure in God’s love. I do not need to do any more work for God to love me anymore. There were very good practical steps as well, like the importance of carving out personal time to rest, or talking to mature Christian brothers and sisters
Jeremiah Lim (AG70 – 3pm Congregation): A new thing that I had learnt about discipleship is to disciple others with the objective that they will know more of Jesus and to grow in love for him. It is not to disciple them for my own agenda. Another helpful model to follow is to follow the example of Jesus, being gentle to the ones we are discipling. Moving forward, I would approach discipleship with dependency on Christ, praying for the ones I am discipling/reading one-to-one with as I cannot do it on my own strength. Then going to disciple/read one-to-one with others with humility and gentleness, always pointing them to Christ.
Wee Wei Ming (AG52 – 5pm Congregation): One or two encouraging truths were: That in Jesus we have the forgiveness of sins, especially considering the brokenness and daily struggles with sin in our day to day… and that transformation and maturing in Christ takes time and will sometimes be a struggle…but not to lose hope as God the Father grows/ guides us in multiple ways (through His word, His people and also through listening to our prayers).
There is never enough personal discipleship and Christ-modelling in every season of church life at Zion Bishan. Please pray along with us that the Lord will continue to grow many AG leaders who delight in Christ and His Church so much that they would shepherd His people faithfully and lovingly!