As I mentioned in a previous post my wife and I definitely believe in the power of what can happen in the life of a small group. This was evidenced by the many types of small groups we have been a part of through our years… and still are a part of today.
One such experience that was most notable for us was when we recently spent a number of years with a group that committed to meeting once a week through our time together (and yes that included summer!!). This seems to be a pretty key ingredient for a group to truly do life together. An ingredient that I have wrestled with others in the church , including leadership for years. As I also mentioned in a post on this before… sacrifice (which could be also called suffering) is necessary in our life of worshipping God and growing in our relationship with Him (although as I think about this… is it really a sacrifice… or is it really just prioritizing life!!). When we think about America and the church I wonder about how our being able to sacrifice our precious commodity of time (along with other things) for other people is going? But when we think about it if practiced better won’t it position us to face what might be coming better. What do I mean by what might be coming (you might ask). All we need to do is be able to take a little bigger look at the church (beyond the one we attend) and see how the church is struggling in America. And along with that how the message of the gospel is being quieted in so many areas of our culture.
Personally, how is the battle for our time going?? If each of us took an assessment of the percentage of our lives given to the things of this world compared to time allowing God’s work in and through our lives (which by the way is included in worship), how would it look?
I remember trying to make a change in a certain churches approach to this simple ingredient of meeting more regularly (at that point many of the groups were meeting once a month)…. and hearing a respected older gentlemen from the church remarking in the midst of a meeting “well do you think I want to get together with those people more often?”. Now at least what he offered the group was probably rather truthful… but at the same time kind of sad. The reality of group life is that the longer we are together the more we find out about the others in the group. Along that journey we will find qualities of the others that we struggle with… and maybe down right don’t like. The Christian walk would be a whole lot easier if we could orchestrate a select group of people around us that we approve of… and maybe more importantly that approve of us (let that sink in a little bit). To this day I still bristle a little bit when I hear folks talk about affinity groups (maybe a topic for another day). Not that having people in our lives in the same stage of life isn’t good for our process… but what about those folks who have already gone through your stage of life??
Ok, for today let’s end here and think about this. God has accepted each one of us as His children… which means yes that person that rubs you wrong. I am not saying your sacrifice has to be filling a whole group with those folks… but the chances are there will be some. What will our response be? Will it look more like what God has done with us when we totally miss and mess up again…. Or will it be… well maybe like the response from that older gentleman when I simply introduced this idea of more regular meetings being one of the ingredients of really doing life together??