Saturday, April 10, 2010

Building Community in Small Groups - Part 2

I talked to the leaders of another small group where I was seeing and hearing good things - believers looking to kick up their faith a notch, draw closer to God, and put their faith in action. Here's a few things I found out they've been doing or are about to do...
  • Starting to text each other nightly to encourage one other to read the bible and pray
  • Are more intentional about developing spiritual friendships
  • Have adjusted their schedule to meet together more often
  • Have prayer and/or accountability partners
  • Changing behaviors and attitudes (which has been visible to others)
  • Looking to serve together with some city ministries, putting faith into action
  • Doing Nooma, reading Blue Like Jazz, thinking more about their faith, asking tough questions
  • Demonstrating authentic leadership, showing warmth and warts, not hiding struggles
I just love the dual focus on relationships and being intentional about growing in Christ. The combination of the two has been visible in how some of these people interacting - still having fun and hanging out together, but a bit less social banter, and more encouraging one another in Christ and talking about how they're trying to grow.

In 'Building Community in Small Groups - Part 1' I looked at another group doing a great job at building community. What's similar, what's different, between these two groups? The details of what they're doing are really different - existing friends adding spiritual depth to their relationship vs completely new people getting to know one another, texting and Facebook vs getting together for kids' play date, outreach to new visitors in church vs outreach to community, different beliefs being reexamined... all great stuff! Yet despite the differences in methods, I'm seeing a nearly identical set of principles in place. Look again at the principles in Part 1; they're strongly at work in this group too: intentionality about building relationships, spiritual growth, outreach, ministry, and a freedom to ask tough questions - and the group as a whole owns all this! The group leaders are setting the tone, casting vision, and modeling these good things, but they're not center-stage, they are peers walking alongside rather than someone above the rest, driving things to happen.

The group described this week are mostly single Gen-Y people, the group in part one is mostly Gen-X couples, and my own small group tends towards boomer parents. As you might expect, the details of what our group does is different from the others. Anything we're doing well comes from what our group members are putting into it, and reflect these very same principles. We can learn from these younger groups as they model a greater willingness to live transparently, freely talking about struggles. We can also be encouraged by their passion to follow Christ with all their heart, and by knowing that the generations that come after us are growing as disciples, disciple-makers, and leaders. Man, that's exciting! I think I may have learned something about leadership as well - I'll save that for part 3!

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