Sunday, November 14, 2010

Small groups

“…and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” -Heb. 10:24-25

For over 20 years, Jeanie and I have been a part of a wonderful small group in our neighborhood. We have all raised each other’s kids in our “village” and are now welcoming marriages and grandkids.

We have been through victories and difficulties together, cried tears of laughter and pain, and all the while, acknowledged God’s work in our families. And our kids are watching what we do in these groups and learning that they, too, need community to be the best they can be.

Small groups are awesome and are so important in raising our kids. Being connected to other families in our neighborhoods provides accountability, encouragement and security. It’s been said that “no man is an island.” I believe that no family is meant to solo through this life either.

But small groups can be difficult. In the book, The Connecting Church by Freezie, he concludes that today’s society of families isn't geared for small groups. He observes that the sense of community 25 years ago has been replaced by more secluded families who stay hidden in their homes with their entertainment centers.

People have not changed in their need for community. It does take a village to raise a healthier kid and the decision to engage with others begins with every parent of every child. Yes, we’re all busy. We all have jobs. We all have sports activities. We all have responsibilities. But the challenge remains for all moms and dads to make the decision for community. Sometimes it takes sacrifice. But the need to make choices for “gaps” is so important. It means we’ll have to carve out time for our friends and families to get together.

So, take the initiative, set a time and invite your friends over. Have a cookout and set a regular time to gather. Small groups provide the foundation that all families need to grow together.

Remember, there is no set formula how to operate a small group. Some groups focus on prayer, some groups on Bible study and others on fellowship. The most productive groups are those that combine all of the ingredients. Certainly have time to just visit and eat snacks, but also schedule time to study the Bible and pray together. And also have some share time for people to express their needs.

And let your kids know what you’re doing. Even include them in some of the small group time. Let them observe first hand the benefits of fellowship together. Sure, having kids involved can be a bit chaotic, but it’s worth it. I recall an episode when the disciples tried to send the kids away from Jesus because of the mess they were producing, but Jesus told the disciples to “chill” and let the kids “hang out.”

As someone said, “people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” Families who pretend like they don't need others are lonely too. So, mom and dad, take the initiative and get your friends together. Open God’s Word and pray together. Turn off the TV and spend time with friends. You’ll be glad you did.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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