Oh how I hate small groups!


A few years ago I preached a message at a thriving church where I served on staff. It was at the time small groups were gaining momentum. Every church around the world and especially here in the USA was all about getting people of the same interest, same profession connected in the same group.

My communities

Unfortunately, I began to notice that all the cool people were joining groups with  other cool people – you know, like some did in high school. And the not so cool people we being left out. So I preached on a passage from Romans 12:16:

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

After my message I was sent into the office of the big man on campus (senior pastor) where I was grilled for a few minutes. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wanting to hang with like-minded folks, but if we really want to live in authentic community, we need to understand what community really is.

According to Henri Nouwen, “community” is a place where the person you least want to live with always lives.

When we surround ourselves with the people we most want to live with, that is not community – that’s a club or a clique, not a community. You see, it is very easy to start a clique but not so very easy to start a community. EGR (extra grace required) is what it will take to start a community. It is going to take you some hard work, humility and love.

I think that is the reason a lot of people hate authentic small groups, small churches small towns. Because -

The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world….The reason is obvious. In a large community we can choose our companions. In a small community our companions are chosen for us. – G. K. Chesterton

This is exactly, I believe, where God is calling the Church. To love people no matter the color of their skin, their accent, their economic, intellectual, social or political background. That is where true and authentic communities really begin.

7 responses to “Oh how I hate small groups!

  1. My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.
    For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in,
    and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,”
    have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
    Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?
    James 2:1-5

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  2. Great post you made good point, that’s what’s wrong with some of the churches the have so many small groups and not reaching the souls that want to be save! Hope I said that right, still trying to wake up! Hope you had a good weekend! God Bless

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  3. This reminds me of Screwtape Letter #16. In a Parish tradition, churchgoers don’t choose their fellow parishioners. But the main American model is to shop around for your ideal church, which leads to self-segregation. And so it can be in churches that don’t strictly assign small groups.

    I like the idea of people with similar goals and outlook coming together; they can energize each other, and as a group be effective at being an ear, foot, or whatever part of the body they are. But you have pointed out some of the dangers. It’s a hard balance to strike, and deserves to be talked about more.

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  4. To be honest I believe that small groups could be useful. It is the group leaders responsibility to make sure that it doesn’t turn into a clique.

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