What’s a small group for? Briefly, to be a channel of grace flowing, from God, to each member of the group. And from each member of the group. What everyone needs most is grace, from God – everyone IN the group, and OUTSIDE the group. This series of posts will elaborate on effective groups, starting with love:
Effective groups are like T-pipes, not cisterns: Grace flows into a group, from God, but it is not meant to stay there, as with a cistern. It’s meant to keep flowing, from you, to others, inside the group, and outside the group, like with a T-pipe. If grace only flows INTO the group, the group will become stale. Not if, but when. And then that group becomes useless. It might still be blissfully enjoyable and comfortable to the attendees. But the danger of a group like this is to be blissfully useless. Not good.
Your group is not about you. Yes, you receive grace there, but the ultimate significance of a group, is if grace flows to you and through you, by means of your group involvement. This is perhaps the most important truth to understand about any group. God gives more grace as we humbly make life and our group not about ourselves, but about Him, and about others. Think the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:35-40).
So we could say that the purpose of every group is to fulfill the Great Commandment. One way God will inevitably do this is by loosening up what some call “saturated relationships”. These are relationships that are so comfortable, and usually longstanding, that they easily fill up the attention and relational energy of the participants of those relationships, and therefore leave no space, in time, energy, etc., for new relationships.
This is how churches plateau. Or, if they grow, this is how they grow into multiple churches within the same church, versus in any cogently unified way. Our relationships become saturated. Enjoyably so, blissfully so. But also, uselessly so. In saturated relationships, we develop a comfort with each other, and we like those relationships, because it serves me in some way, if only in the comfort of friends I can be myself with.
This is not inherently bad. But we are called to bear fruit. Therefore, the fundamental need is to get our goals right for our groups. And that fundamental goal is to love God and love our neighbor. And the chief way we do that is by giving them grace. More on this next.