Avoid small-group problemsBy Melodie Davis
Small groups go by a half dozen names but have a common goal: to create the intimate caring and sharing of the early Christian house-church movement.
Usually it is difficult or impossible to find that kind of intimacy in the larger congregation.
Small groups are designed for several purposes: Bible study, sharing of concerns and prayer, fellowship. Some groups attempt to replicate all the markers of the larger church, including worship, nurture or teaching, fellowship and mission.
Small groups are an antidote to our crazy culture where people feel isolated and alone.
However, there are potential problems in any group of people. The most common problem is that people feel excluded, not invited, or that small groups result in cliques. This can feel hurtful and lonely for those left out.
Sometimes you can join a group but not really be in the “in” group. This can happen in any social setting — at work, in the neighborhood, at school or at church.
A woman who has given me many good ideas for columns suggested this topic. I’ll call her Kelly. After Kelly and her husband started attending a church where their friends went, they hoped their friends would ask them to also join their small group. But no one asked them. They felt excluded and shunned.
The other couple responded that “we thought you would ask to join.” But this couple felt that put them in the position of opening themselves to rejection.
No matter how groups are formed at your church, there is much opportunity for feeling left out, like you’re not in the “best” or most intimate group, or that there are persons who you wish weren’t in your group.
Group members might burn out and need a new group or a year off. There might be members who monopolize every meeting with their own concerns or with gossip.
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