If you don’t know me very well, allow me to introduce one aspect about me to you: I am a passionate person. When I choose to get involved in something I am generally all in. Now, of course there are exceptions but for the most part, this is how I choose to live my life. This choice to be passionate about what I do shows up in many areas, but don’t let that confuse you into believing that I am equally passionate about all things. There are two key commitments that I am most passionate about and in fact I am willing to give my life to these two things…and I believe I am. Here they are (drum roll please): I am committed to helping people know Christ who don’t yet know Him as the Forgiver of their sins and the leader of their lives, and I am committed to helping others who already know Him grow in their relationship with and commitment to Him. These two commitments are the things that I am most passionate about in life. I spend hour after hour, day after day, week after week and now year after year in pursuit of these two commitments. With that in mind, when I talk about involvement in a small group as one of the best (if not the best) ways to grow in your relationship with God and others, and then I hear stories of small groups not working super well, or quite frankly stories of small groups failing, I am deeply saddened. However, this sadness is not terminal. Just like I wouldn’t stop eating if I had a meal that burnt my tongue or tasted horrible, I am not convinced that a bad experience means that the program is terminal. So, let me share with you 3 reasons why I believe small groups are still for you, even if you’ve had a bad experience or the group wasn’t all you hoped it would be.
- We don’t maintain, we drift! Generally speaking, people don’t do well in their walk with Christ when they choose to sit on the sidelines. I know, I know, sitting out of a small group or some sort of intentional relationship doesn’t mean you’ve stopped being involved in the church, but it does mean that you’ve chosen to try to pursue Christ on your own. Frankly, the people in Scripture who I find doing this don’t maintain, they drift. Here’s where the problem lies – we don’t tend to drift in good directions, we usually drift away from God. For example, when King David decided to seclude himself and send everyone else out on the mission, it was easy for Him to make isolated decisions that led him downhill quickly. Drift happens! This is why we need intentional relationships.
- We can’t love others and leave them alone! To love someone means that we take purposeful action and make sacrifices for their good. Sadly, I think that we equate hate as the opposite of love, and that may be true, but inactivity is also the opposite of love. Refusing to pursue and actively invest in someone is also the opposite of love. As Christians, how are we displaying the love of Christ to one another without this type of strategic, intentional activity?
- Someone else needs you! Whenever I hear stories of people having a bad experience in a small group it always motivates and moves me to make sure that I am helping to provide a great environment for life change and meaningful relationships. Maybe your poor small group experience will serve to enable you to help mold and remake a small group so that someone else can enjoy a better small group experience in the future. If you’ve been a Christian for a while, you have meaningful input that needs to be shared with other Christians and we need you to help with the growth that God is bringing to us.
I don’t think that writing this post will necessarily change anyone’s mind, but I do want to leave you with a few questions if you find yourself saying: “Small group just isn’t for me.” First: what is your strategy then for the clear commands of Christ to invest in each other? Second: who gets to ask you strategic questions so that you don’t drift? The answer to those questions are really something that I am passionate about and I want to invite you to be passionate about them as well.