Small groups are all about leading people into a deeper relationship with Christ and with one another.
But what if your group members haven’t really connected? How can you help them to move past superficial relationships and only showing up when it’s convenient, into a deeply committed, love relationship with Christ and one another?
It starts with authentic community.
One of the biggest challenges in today’s fast paced society is getting people to slow down long enough to make a true connection. We may know about each other but do we truly KNOW one other? Even when we are together, many of us are looking at our screens. While social media is one avenue to keep people connected, it can also be detrimental to authentic community. How many times have you sat in a restaurant and watched a family sit down together only to pull out their phones and fail to engage in conversation?
I had the pleasure of visiting the city of Vienna a few years ago. The sense of community in such a diverse city left a huge impression on me. People talked, sometimes for hours over a glass of water. No phones, no screens, they just talked.
So what does authentic community look like? We have a biblical model in Acts 2:42-47 where we read about how the early church was committed to one another in prayer, the Lord ’s Supper and God’s word. They were united together and shared with those who were in need. They actually shared one another’s burdens. Of course, they didn’t have phones and screens but I’m sure they had plenty of other distractions.
Why is it so hard for us to experience this kind of community?
We are too busy and we don’t spend any time together.
In his blog article, Four Marks of Authentic Community, Bill Donahue writes, “Community doesn’t happen quickly and so if we can devote some extended time to telling our stories and getting to know each other it’s a big step to building community.”
Are you cultivating authentic community in your group? What if you made a special effort to go deeper with one or two people this week? Spend some time getting to know them and asking questions. Skip the texts, emails, and Facebook messages and spend quality time face to face. As the leader, you may not be able to connect with everyone in your group but you can set an example for others. Try it. It just might be contagious.
Getting to know you idea: Pair up group members with a list of 10 get-to-know-you questions. Have the pairs meet with one another during the week and ask each other questions, interview style. Then the following week, have them share what they learned about the other person with the group.