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If you share a vehicle with your spouse like I do, I can always tell when Christy has driven my car. How? Beside the seat being slid forward, the rear-view mirror is titled down just a little. It’s amazing how simple yet essential that little mirror is to driving a vehicle. While most of my time driving is spent looking ahead, failing to look behind me can be very dangerous. A good driver is aware of what’s behind him, beside him, and certainly in front of him. In a similar way, Christian growth involves looking in multiple directions.

You’ve probably heard by now that Connect Groups at Woolsey Baptist Church exist so that we might connect with God through his Word, connect with one another through meaningful relationships, and connect with the unchurched through intentional outreach. We could say this three-fold statement captures the WHAT of Connect Groups. But how do we get there? What steps do we need to take week after week to purposefully connect with God, one another, and the unchurched? While a lot could be said to that question, I want to suggest another three-part statement that I hope captures a game plan for moving us in that direction.

To better accomplish our Connect Groups’ purpose, one strategy we should employ in each group is to look back, look up, and look ahead. What do we mean by looking back, looking up, and looking ahead? Each Sunday when we gather into our groups at 9:30 a.m., a variety of things happen. Practically speaking, parents drop off children, adults fill up coffee mugs, people find a seat and chat with friends, and eventually the group leader calls for everyone’s attention. For most groups, this opening time is dedicated to sharing prayer requests which often includes checking-in on requests from the previous week. Is your co-worker feeling better? Did the test results come back from your uncle’s procedure? These questions, and ones like them, summarize the extent of most of our “looking back” time.

After one or two people say a prayer, the group leader will generally say something like this, “Turn in your Bibles to…” or “Open your workbook to page…” For the remainder of the time, the leader will explain and apply the Bible by reading the Scripture text, summarizing the commentary presented in the teacher’s guide, and ask discussion-oriented questions to help one another engage with the lesson. Each of these techniques are helpful tools to help us look up to God and the truth of his Word. As 10:30 a.m. approaches, we will often end Connect Groups with a challenge from the text before everyone stands up, says a cordial “Have a good week” goodbye, and heads in their different direction.

Alongside these helpful ways of looking back, I believe there are others means of deliberately looking back at the previous week such as encouraging one another in their walk with the Lord and checking in on people’s spiritual walk. Just like we could not imagine driving without a rear-view mirror, I believe it is essential for us to look back not only do check-in on people’s physical needs but, equally so, their spiritual needs. Over the long-haul, an intentional effort to check-in on people at a heart-level will genuinely help our church’s Connect Group ministry better accomplish its mission.

Let’s make sure to check the rear-view mirror this Sunday!