I’ve been thinking about home groups. Sunday morning church is a really good thing and all, but no matter how good the church is, it’s still a big group. It’s still hard to really get involved. It’s still easy to hide in the background.
I love the worship of the big group; it’s often really hard to match that in most home groups. And the teaching in the big meeting is often (but not always) really valuable. There are things that you can do in a big group that you can’t do in a little group.
But the reverse is equally true. There are things you can do in a little group that you can’t do in a big group, really valuable things like making great friends, like sharing your heart, like getting prayed for regularly, like laughing together until your sides hurt, or weeping together in the presence of God.
The combination of the two is priceless. In fact, between the two, I often think the home group is the more important gathering of the two. Not always. Not saying the big meeting is insignificant. Just saying home groups are that valuable.
Too often, I’ve found it too easy to be too comfortable in a big church. If I plaster on a big fake smile and don’t linger too long in conversation in the lobby, I can get away without ever having engaged anyone at all. I can’t get away with that in a home group. And I like that. I need that.
We’re starting home groups in our church. It’s kind of hard work, mostly because of all the bad experiences we’ve had before. We have as much un-learning to do as anything else.
Here are some values we have in our home groups:
• The first rule is that church leadership is not making a bunch of rules for home groups. If you want to start a group, go for it. We’ll help, but we won’t tell you what to do. Well, we’ll try not to.
• You can meet whenever you want, wherever you want, and as often as you want. Homes are always a good place for home groups, but so are coffee shops, pubs, conference rooms and the local shopping mall. Take field trips. Wherever you are, the Church is, so have at it! Be creative.
• Teach what you want to teach. All we ask is that you love God and love people. Then teach what you want. Teach the Bible. Teach from a study guide, from a popular book, from current movies. Or don’t include any teaching in your group. We don’t recommend reviewing this weeks sermons unless the group insists. They’ve already heard that.
• Invite who you want to invite. People from the church. People from the neighborhood. People from other churches. People from other home groups. Heck, you can invite people from other planets if you can figure out where to park their cars. Bring in guest speakers if you like. Or not.
• Relationships are primary. More than teaching. More than acts of service. More than prayer. More even than having a meal together! (Oh my!) On the other hand, there’s not much that’s better at building relationships than praying together, or serving together, studying the Word together or especially sharing supper together.
• If you’re leading a group, you’re choosing to submit yourself to a higher standard of accountability than Joe Schmotz in the back row of the church with the big fake smile. But like Paul Manwaring says, “Accountability is not about making sure you don’t smoke. Accountability is making sure that you are on fire.”
We’ll undoubtedly think of more values as we do this for a while. But for now, this is a good starting place.
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