Creating real community

Creating real community

Small groups provide ideal settings for learning about and practicing real Christian community. With that in mind, here are five steps that will help any small group develop real community where accountability, trust, and honest confession become a natural part of your small group.

Know one another. Community-building is an essential part of your meeting. Icebreaker questions help. So do Bible-study application questions that invite people to express opinions and feelings. Getting together outside the regular meeting times, especially for extended periods like weekend trips, helps group members know one another better. Once people feel comfortable with one another, trust will grow.

Be transparent. Usually the leader needs to open up first, and then others will see it's okay to do the same. Transparency about little things at first will enable openness about bigger things later. Transparency takes humility. Study Phil.2:1-11 by yourself, and then with the group. Discuss the relationship between humility and transparency. Talk about the difficulties and joys of being real with your group.

Keep confidences. Group members won't share personal struggles if there's a risk those struggles might be blabbed outside the group. Make it clear, and repeat it often, that what's said in the group stays in the group.

Carry one another's burdens. People will open up when they are sure you really care about them. Be ready to help in times of physical, emotional, and spiritual need. Phone group members during the week to see how they are. This is especially important after a meeting in which someone has opened up about something new, a group member was particularly quiet, or you observed other signs that someone might be hurting.

Hold each other accountable. There is no such thing as a Lone Ranger Christian. We need each other. At first, hold each other accountable for being on time for meetings, then for disciplines such as prayer and Bible study, and then, as trust grows, for issues that involve sin.

Adapted from "Making It Comfortable," by Michael Mack (Issue 83, S/O 1994). ©1994Discipleship Journal rights reserved.