Life in a small group community can be a fun, challenging, growing, difficult, and learning experience. These words provide a glimpse into the reason we keep showing up to our friend’s house on Sunday evenings, week-after-week, month-after-month, and possibly year-after-year. We desire to do life together with other believers. Consistently gathering together with others who are experiencing life at the same harried pace you are offers us comfort, a moment to catch our breath and realize that we’re not crazy, and a place we can be known and accepted. This is good! Yet the descriptive words that I tossed out a moment ago may be clear indicators that your small group experience is really, really good. Yet in the midst of something you and others enjoy, there is the potential that your group could be missing the most important aspect of community life—the gospel! Small groups should be something more than Christian social clubs.
I’ve recently been reading through the Book of Acts, and it’s caused me to wrestle with the question: What’s at the heart of a small group? I’ve come to realize that most small groups fit into one of two categories: either you’re in a gospel-centered community or you’re participating in Christian social clubs.
I’m sure that may seem a bit harsh at first, but the reality is that whenever believers gather together for a season of time, we gravitate to one side of the fence or the other. We either drift toward fun-loving fellowship or to gospel-centered intensity.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a great group of Christ-following friends. However, hanging out with Christian friends alone is not enough to produce consistent, fruit-bearing, spiritual growth.
Evaluating Christian Social Clubs
- Your group is either seeking God’s truth together in the Bible, or it’s not.
- Your group is either seeking to allow the person of Jesus to be at the center of your meeting, or it’s not.
- Your group is either engaging with the work of Jesus on the cross to transform your hearts and minds, or it’s not
- Your group is either inviting the Holy Spirit to work in your lives, or it’s not.
This is not some legalistic plea to make your group more religious. Instead it is submitting everything you are, everything you do, and everything you face—to the feet of Jesus.
A gospel-centered small group community is centered on what the name might suggest; the intentional practice of placing the gospel at the center of every small group gathering. It really is about Jesus in your friendships, in your decision making, in your parenting, in the stewardship of your talents and treasures, in your pursuit of biblical truth—in everything! Jesus and His transforming work are brought to bear on all of life—the good, the bad, even the seemingly indifferent.
Does this describe your typical small group meeting? Or do chips and salsa, fantasy football teams, and creative ideas from Pinterest take precedent? Is the gospel of Jesus Christ the reason you meet? Is it what fuels the week ahead? Or are social interaction, casual conversation, and friendship at the true heart of your small group?
Lest you think this some anti-friendship, anti-laughter, or anti-fun post, rather it is a challenge to consider what is truly at the center of your small group? Ultimately, we all desire and need genuine friendships and fun-loving interaction—but the world needs the gospel more than we need Christian social clubs!