Two Christmas Characters Who Can Challenge Your Small Group Ministry.

In this blog I want to encourage you to reflect on two of the central figures in the Christmas story; Mary and Joseph. Nothing new there you think to yourself, that’s what I normally do at Christmas time! However, this year I would like you to take the time to specifically reflect on their individual responses to God and the challenge it may bring to your small group ministry.

You see they found themselves in a confusing and very ‘tricky’ predicament, yet in the midst of the uncertainty Mary made herself completely available to God and Joseph agreed to step out of his comfort zone into the unknown.

#1. Mary

I find it profoundly moving when I read Mary’s words, “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled.”  (Luke 1:38). She made herself completely available to be God’s person, no holding back, no excuses of busyness or lack of ability, just complete surrender. Her words challenge me, and I find myself asking, “am I brave enough to make myself completely available to God? To take on any huge, daunting or seemingly impossible task he may be asking me to do?”

Mary, was young, probably a teenager but she was up for the challenge when it came to being available to God. How about you? How available are you? Specifically, what might God be asking you to be available to do in small group ministry in the new year? Lead a group? Plant a new group? Coach a group of leaders? Develop a small group ministry strategy for your church? Something else? Could you say as Mary said; I am the Lords servant……or will you make a list of reason not to be available?

Enjoy the sunny beaches of southern California, grow as a leader, strengthen your team & accelerate the health & growth of your small group ministry by attending our “Accelerate!” SoCal Small Group Workshop coming July 2019! For more info & to lock in EARLY BIRD RATES click HERE!


#2. Joseph

Have you ever wondered what Joseph’s friends and colleagues said to him when he chose to stand by Mary? I am sure he experienced uncomfortable times when friends and family questioned his decision, made negative comments about his situation, and gave plenty of unsolicited advice.

The most comfortable course of action for Joseph to take, was to release Mary from the promises they had made to each other. However, because of his relationship with God, Joseph chose to move into a space which was way outside his comfort zone! Once again I find myself asking, “am I willing to give up my comfort and step into the unknown for God?”

Maybe as you reflect on Joseph’s response it strikes a chord for you……What might it look like for you to step out of your comfort zone in your small group ministry in the new year?  What might God be saying? Maybe it is about the risk of trying out a new small group system, or stepping into the unknown realm of developing training tools. Or maybe it is the area of investing finances or building creative (out of the ‘norm’) small group options. What about stepping up to facilitate Accelerate! Or creating a strategic plan, or leading a small group network huddle?

What might others say to you if you stepped out of your comfort zone in obedience to God and did something new? Will you be like Joseph and ‘stay the course’ when others question your actions and decisions? Is God prompting you out of your comfort zone?

Of course the most amazing thing about Mary and Joseph is that they had God on their side, he was with them every step of the way as they navigated their ‘tricky’ journey together. And the GREAT news is that He will do the same for you and me! Are you available to Him? Will you step out of your comfort zone into the unknown for Him?


  • Tracey Ware

    Tracey has a heart and passion for small group ministry which goes back to her teenage years. It was in a small group that she was mentored, challenged and encouraged in her Christian walk. She believes that small groups have amazing (often unleashed) potential to impact not only the local church but our world! ?Tracey is an ordained pastor and has had many years’ experience in small group ministry in both NSW and Victoria – (Australia). She is currently the Pastor for Life Groups at Syndal Baptist Church. She was a guest presenter at the Twelve Conference in April 2015, and also established the first SGN Huddle in Australia in Sept 2015. (Melbourne VIC). Tracey is married to David and has two young adult sons.

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Daniel Thomas

Connections Director


Daniel serves as Executive Pastor at Community Church of Mountain City, TN.  Daniel and his family are on a mission to establish roots within their community, fight for peace and serve well.  He serves as our Connections Director in laying the groundwork for Circles. He loves great coffee and traveling with his wife Tia and two children, Deklan and Aden



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