Community group question
Can someone explain to me how you build family in small church groups that people may leave after a year or two?
If they are supposed to be like family, how do you accomplish something that takes years to develop amongst friends, much less immediate or extended family?
What I mean is, there’s a sense of closeness and trust with parents and siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins, grandparents, nephews, nieces that is inherently there in a healthy family relationship. You may grow closer over the years, but the inherent trust and sense of belonging stands. Obviously this will not be the case in a badly dysfunctional family, or in a case where there’s been abuse, betrayal, etc.
Yet, in a small group, you are put into a situation with strangers or people you nominally know and expected to do serious, intense ‘community’ with these people. Tell them the kind of things you wouldn’t tell your family. Serve them constantly. Do ‘life together’ with them.
Then, when that group is split up for whatever reason the next year or the year after…do life together with the next bunch of people. And do it with the next bunch a few years afterward. And on and on and on.
Forgive me for questioning something that apparently is crucial to what most American church leaders believe is vital to church health. I’m not questioning the need for small groups – done right they’re much better than sitting in the crowd on Sunday mornings – but the assumption that small/community groups will eventually become family for people.
I wonder if church leaders and small group experts underestimate the amount of time and ‘life together’ it takes to really feel at home with people. I wonder if I understimate – or overestimate – the amount of time and commitment such an endeavor takes.
What do you think? Where am I on target? Where am I off? What is your view on the matter?