The dark side of falling in love with community is our inclination to form a holy huddle, intentionally or unintentionally. We love the fellowship of the body so much that we become addicted to it, closing our doors to those outside. Yet when we are on the outside looking in, we long to be invited into community. Once invited, we fully believe we would freely offer this gift to others. Sadly, we don’t. We hoard it, protecting our newfound treasure from any interloper who might compromise our experience. Our arms stretch upward in the holy huddle we have discovered but never extend toward those still searching for a place at the table of community. Sin 5 has set in.
A closed group mind-set is a death sentence to true community. The dying is slow and initially imperceptible, like a degenerative illness whose outward effects are not yet fully manifest. But this truly is a deadly sin. And it must be recognized and remedied.
The symptoms of closed group mind-set include lack of spiritual growth within groups and within the church as a whole, many attendees or members who aren’t in groups, and groups that practice spiritual sugarcoating rather than authentic intimacy. Closed group mind-set happens because churches don’t understand the open chair and are insensitive to seekers.
Donahue, B., & Robinson, R., Willow Creek Association. (2009). The seven deadly sins of small group ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.