We too quickly think of these as mutually exclusive rather than a life-giving combination. Don’t jump to any quick conclusions… I am talking about healthy small group relationships.
Intimate relationships are really where life change happens. Sunday mornings are vitally important. Sunday’s teaching and musical worship are vitally important. However, it is in real and intimate relationships that we process the way in which God is revealing Himself to us.
Without intimate relationships then, a so-called small group is nothing more than another Sunday gathering at a new location on a different day of the week. We do not need another one of those in our weeks. In order for the gospel to transform our hearts and lives we need to take the truth God reveals (whether on Sunday or any other day of our week) and process how that changes our daily rhythms out loud with other people.
The gospel reaches into the nitty-gritty of our worst and best actions. We need real relationships so that we have a safe place to process and download how the gospel applies to those nitty-gritty struggles. For gospel transformation to be a defining mark of our lives we need to be journeying with people who know us beyond our shiny veneer.
An often neglected facet of our own personal gospel transformation is the missional invitation extended for others to join us. We are transformed by inviting and investing in others who live, work, and play around us. They too desperately need intimate relationships through which the gospel can penetrate beyond the veneer and deeply into the truth of identity.
For our small groups to be healthy they must be an intimate place where relationships grow and thrive. For those groups to be healthy they must be inviting others along on the journey of gospel transformation as well.
Our minds which are bound by the social norms that thrive in our work and family settings feel a paradoxical tension between these two realities. However, gospel transformation is not built upon our social norms but rather the work of our Savior.
Our spiritual growth and vitality are constructed and facilitated by the author of the gospel Himself. In that place of mind-boggling tension He calls us to intimacy but not exclusivity as we pursue gospel relationships with those around us.
We worship a supernatural God who works in supernatural ways. He wants to infuse hope and joy into our lives through authentic community. He also wants to use that authentic community to transform the lives of those around us.
As we engage in authentic community, what if we were constantly asking the question of what God wants to do not only in us but through us?