Most every day I visit with pastors whose members are too busy for friendships. In their world, it's all about the kids and managing a household and working a high-stress job to maintain a certain lifestyle without financial margin. It's quite evident that they think enjoying the company of others without an agenda is what the irresponsible or filthy rich do with their time.
This is jacked up. There's absolutely nothing right with the lifestyle or the mentality in which we Americans find ourselves. Plus, there's very little difference in values between those in the American church and those outside it.
Now think about your small group and how much more personally transformational it would be for the members if they valued friendship enough to actually invest in others and allow others to invest in them without an outlined agenda for their scheduled gatherings.
The western drive to attain that next level of status and personal comfort has systematically annihilated friendships, or that which God has set out to be the way the world will be reached for Christ.
At the risk of telling the cow how to eat the cabbage, I must state the obvious just in case it's not so obvious...
Small group relational evangelism will not occur if the members have no idea how to become a friend to someone (churched or unchurched), ask them for help in areas of life, help them out whenever possible, introduce them to their other friends who are far more than acquaintances, and do life together.
In fact, discipleship among believers won't happen either if deep friendships are not formed between small group members.
And I guess it goes without saying (but I will anyway) that new leaders for new groups will not be raised up if potential leaders have no relationship with their group's coach or pastor.
If you're wondering what to preach about next quarter so your members can discuss and apply it in their groups, why not go back to basics and challenge them to hold others in higher regard than themselves?
Being a small groups pastor I struggle with getting people excited about small groups and really battle getting people to lead because they see it as something they have to do and not a time of encouragement and growth.
I agree that our society has become so busy with getting to our next appointment that spending quality time with anybody is seen as a chore than as a time for encouragement. Most families don't spend quality time with each other because of all the things they have going on also.
I do believe that the Church plays a big role in this problem. The church is so busy filling up its calendar it fails to see if the items filling the calendar are needed.
One person told me they did not have time for a small group because their kid was involved in the youth activities going. This parent was not involved in the activity.
As I was reading your post Galatians 6:2 and Hebrews 3:13 kept coming to mind.
Thank you for this post and challenge.
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