The world is hungry for the community the church can offer, and it will look for it elsewhere if the church fails to provide it. Several years ago my father died. As I returned home to be with my mother, I found myself with several people who had been regular customers at the tavern my father owned for eight years. They too had come to honor my father and comfort my mother. I was struck with the kind of friendship they had developed which Christians so often fail to have.
My experience at church has at times left me disappointed. I know of others who came because they needed community, but who did not find it in the regular worship service. Every church must deal with this problem if it is to demonstrate that Christian community is better than what the world has to offer. True friendship can happen in the church, but it takes small groups.
Christian fellowship is having every member of your small group call you when your mother dies or you lose a baby during pregnancy. It’s being able to share about failures in parenting and marriage, being cared for when the job becomes too much for you, being encouraged in developing gifts of leadership and hospitality.
Greg and Marsha, a young Christian couple, were both committed to Christ, but the Word of God had become for them more and more just words, less and less an experience of God. A young associate pastor of their church invited them to be a part of a small group. It changed their lives. They developed relationships with other Christians who held them accountable in their personal growth with God and with whom they could share personal problems. When Greg and Marsha moved to California they began another small group, and when they moved to Boston they began yet another. For them, Christian community as lived out in a small group became a must for Christian living.
Barker, S. (1997). Good things come in small groups : The dynamics of good group life (19–20). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.