From Clique to Community

From Clique to Community

Why your groups must step out of their boats

You’ve seen them walk by. The “cooler than thou” group. The group that everyone in the church wants to be a part of and everyone outside of the church blames as the reason why they don’t come.

Most of us became aware of cliques in high school: the preps, the jocks, the high-achievers and the rockers, to name a few. Ancient cliques included groups like the Pharisees, Sadducees and the Hellenists, who condemned everyone and only enjoyed the company of each other.

We know how cruel kids can be, but we forget that church members and leaders can be just as cold-hearted and narrow-minded.

When our mindset is not one of multiplying people who disciple others and mentors, then we miss out on one of the most fundamental assets of the church: an individual’s capacity to minister to another individual. We know that not everyone is called to be a teacher or a leader, but every member is called to minister.

We’re reminded of this in 1 Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Inside out and out of the boat
Small groups within the church have the tendency to keep themselves from turning “inside out.” We’re afraid to reach out to new people. When we have community, we have a safe, secure and friendly lifeboat. But this lifeboat isn’t just for us. It’s for everyone else who needs a lifeboat also. They’re reaching out with interests, wants and needs. Yet, we’re often not willing to open up the boat because it may interfere with our own community.

It all starts with a better plan, different from sitting around in a boat waiting for the desperate to come to us. The disciples abandoned years of tried friendship with each other to split up and reach the farthest corners of the world for Christ. It may be risky and at times lonely, but it is our calling.

One key is to seek people who are hungry. They need the gospel. Encourage your small group members to bring friends and invite occasional strangers God may drop in our paths. This will keep the group fresh in ministry and its composition.

Ultimately, though, we must believe that God will preserve the gains we’ve made and help us move toward a community that includes people that weren’t included before. That is the model of Jesus, and it is his calling for all our small group ministries.

This article originally appeared here.

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Brett Eastman served as the Small Group Champion at Saddleback Church and Willow Creek Community Church for over a decade. Brett has produced and either authored or co-authored over 200 small group curriculum series including the bestselling Purpose Driven Small Group curriculum, Doing Lifetogether published by Zondervan, which has sold over 3,000,000 copies. He also was the primary designer behind the 40 Days of Purpose Campaigns that fueled over 25,000 churches around the world. He also wrote and produced the first Purpose Driven small group series for Rick Warren that influenced the development of over 50 small group series to date.