Posted by loswhit in Faith

I look at the life of Jesus.
I look at his discipleship structure.
I look at His church growth strategy.

If we were to compare his “strategy” to todays “strategy” He would be the most inefficient minister on the planet.
But why did He choose this way?
Because a strategy of chaotic clusters bridged much stronger relationships than a strategy of safe circles.

Let me explain.

I’ve done small groups and Sunday school my entire life.
Yes I’ve formed some great relationships.
But over a LOOOOONG TIME.

Last week I was in British Columbia with what could be considered mostly strangers.
We jumped off cliffs together.
We climbed through forests together.
We cried on balconies together.
We did many things together.
But sitting in circles talking about Jesus was probably 1/100th of what we did.
And in 3 short days we are closer than most I have sat in circles with for 7 month stretches at a time.

Which confuses me as to how sitting in circles is the solution to “community” in church today.
Heck, I think the main problem is the SITTING part.

So instead of sitting…
Get up, walk out the door, and DO something with your people and watch your “community group” explode overnight into a tribe that is forever linked.

What’s been your experience on true community and how it’s built?
Los

[I've obviously been hanging with BOB and DON.  Thank God for friends who continually disturb and disrupt my life]

  • http://www.beckycastlemiller.com/ Becky Castle Miller

    Awesome. It’s true that we connect with people we DO STUFF with! I am going to share this with my small group and talk this week about how we can go do something together.

  • Brad

    As a small group leader I’ve found that activity takes our relationships deeper and deeper. We eat together, take the kids to the park together, watch movies together, eat together, swim together, cry together, laugh at each other, eat together, talk about Jesus together, do missional things together, and did I mention that we eat together?
    But the one thing that has brought us the closest. The thing that has solidified our bond more than anything else is that we’ve grieved together. Grieved over sin and sorrow.

  • David Fritch

    For reals! AND mission tends to find you when you’re out among real people rather than sitting around and planning it.

  • http://www.tessahardiman.com/ Tessa

    I think doing life together is the ultimate purpose of a community/small group. LOVE this post :)

  • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com @kylereed

    Bingo

  • ken dorsey

    YES! I feel that this concept of “doing” is the heartbeat of community! When I get to share in an experience with someone then I begin to grow closer. Conversations can be forgotten and if we are just discussing our opinions on feeling and theological topics I will pass every time. My greatest relationships and connections are when we had to do something. Whether an activity, consoling, or working the power of doing something is real!

  • Jaime Filho

    Perfect! Wisdom of brethren around the world! =D

  • Heather K

    I read this post and, initially, I was a little irritated. I mean, if Jesus was to come to my small group he’d probably think it was friggin’ awesome, right? We don’t sit around and do Bible study, we live it. Shakespeare in the park, scavenger hunt downtown during track season, crafting for cancer patients, late night bubbletea and dinner at Moe’s. All while laughing, crying, and commiserating together. We cough up the cash to pay for dinner so the woman whose husband recently lost his legs can join us. We make sacrifices to bless others in the community who just need a little ($$$) token of the love of Jesus to encourage them that yes, they can make it through another day. We give freely because we know that we’ve received freely.
    But there have been weeks when it’s all about our group. And about our relationships with each other. And not about our relationships with Him. And not about introducing anybody else to a relationship with Him. It’s easy to get comfortable knowing that you’re doing a good thing. You lose sight of the ultimate vision to be doing The Greater Thing. I run one of the most vibrant, healthy, flourishing groups I’ve ever been in–and I don’t say it just because I’m the “group leader”, that’s just the way it is.
    I want to go deeper. I want to draw other people there. I want to experience that awesome feeling when you watch a new member of your group drawing another new person into that Divine place where you fall into the grace of God. It’s time to shake it up. Again.

    • ragamuffinsoul

      Keep it up!

  • http://www.plannedpeasanthood.com/ Rick Dawson

    Funny, but I don’t recall in any of my readings in the Bible where Jesus sat and took apart the OT. They were nearly always on the move doing something together – whether eating at Mary’s place or at the home of some barfly, didn’t much matter. Oh, He did sit folks down for teaching – but even that was spaced out among other things. Relationships were built in the getting outside of self and drawing closer to who He was – and is – by actively following, not by passively sitting.

    Great post! My first time commenting here, but I’ll be back – already subscribing via RSS.

    • ragamuffinsoul

      Thanks man!

  • James

    Couldn’t it just as easily devolve into a cool social group. Let me save you the trouble, yes, yes it could.

    • ragamuffinsoul

      And circles could turn into a cult. Your point is?

    • http://ashleysue.com/ Ashley Sue Bullers

      Just because people meet in small group does not make them righteous, nor anything more than a “cool social group” either. The heart and the intention of members is what makes anything what it is, and the very logic that your small group is immune to – or above – becoming a “cool social group” is the exact problem. It’s a comfortable false sense of holiness and security for some.

      • LKW

        I think what is being asked is legitimate. How do we make Jesus central to these “social groups”?

        • http://ashleysue.com/ Ashley Sue Bullers

          That is a question I can get behind. As a Christian, I think we have to ask ourselves that of all aspects of our lives. “How do we make Jesus central in our profession?” “How do we make Jesus central in our family?” “How do we make Jesus central as I spend a weekend with my girlfriends on a cruise?” And I think that is Los’ point – the “small group” is not the answer to that, and thinking that “social groups” can’T be that is flawed, too.

  • CdninQ8

    I know by experience that 1/10th sitting and 9/10th activity – service, adventure, worship, whatever action done together …is what creates the bond you experienced. If only the Body of Christ could become more externally action-focused and less internally program-focused. Christ’s love has boots (sandals?) on.

    I also found that any principles learned in the course of the activity, stuck. Imagine that.

    Great post.

  • Kurt

    Mostly true. But there has to be balance. Jesus retreated, or at least tried to retreat with the 12 for rest and recharging. Small groups should do both. I can cry and build community and do cool stuff with a lot of people, but if it doesn’t grow us deeper it in the Word I have just had fun and made good friends. A small group can surly become inwardly focused and stagnant, but becoming addicted to activity and action to the detriment of growth, depth and accountability.

    • ragamuffinsoul

      Who says you can’t talk about Jesus while you are on the move? That would make us immature, not cool. Intention while serving is the greatest of small groups

      • Kurt

        Yes, Jesus said that we should be cool. That is the goal. Who says you can’t talk about Jesus when you are not on the move. That too might make us immature.

        • http://ashleysue.com/ Ashley Sue Bullers

          Los is saying to meet people where THEY are, not where you are comfortable and safe and not living an adventure. THAT is where conversion takes place!

  • John

    Sounds like you are describing a social club. No where in your club atmosphere do you talk about soul/winning which is what Jesus was all about. Hiking and climbing is common for any groups you can hang with but they don’t help reach the lost.

    • ragamuffinsoul

      LOL. This is amazing. More people are reached outside the walls of the church than in. Get out. Do more.

    • R W

      Yes and no. I live in the PNW, and my family is very involved with an advernture-based ministry to teens…..some of the most amazing ministry stories I’ve heard come from them; of Jesus showing up in a real way to a kid afraid to trust as he dangles on the end of a climbing rope, and many others. Jesus is all about soul winning, but he goes places and does things with people to make it happen. :)

    • http://ashleysue.com/ Ashley Sue Bullers

      YES, hiking and climbing ARE common for ANY groups you can hang out with – which is WHY you should do it – because it DOES reach the lost! If you only sit within your small group and serve at the local food pantry, you are not out there, PROVING you are real, you are an adventurer, you are a heart of faith! You have to meet people where THEY are, and you and they are better for it than to arrogantly sit in our comfort zone talking to each other about how sad it is people don’t “get” God!

  • jcdulaney

    Thanks for this post Carlos.
    I don’t do small groups because…..well honestly, they freak me out.
    I don’t like school and it feels like school and in almost every case, I’m the dumb one in the class. I don’t connect. I don’t thrive. Thus, I never find community.

    If I could get out with people and connect that way over a common activity? Now that would work.

  • R W

    I hear you…my small group is awesome! However, I just went on a whitewater kayaking trip with mostly strangers…..and had some pretty amazing, life changing experiances. And it was awesome, too.

  • Bianca

    Luuuuuuucky!

  • Jonathan Charters

    Not just your small group. He’d quit your church too … and your conferences … and worship events. Cause sitting in rows staring at the back of someone’s head for an hour and a half is even worse than sitting in a circle.

    • Carlos

      Wait! I don’t even hve a conference or a church!! Phew.

      • Virgil Richardson

        For the record, if you throw the conference, I’ll sit in the pew

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  • guest1

    Jesus often got together with his small group of disciples. BOTH kinds of groups are necessary. We are not to only hang with the World and never get any kind of Biblical teaching. I think you may lead a lot of people astray with this article.

    • http://ashleysue.com/ Ashley Sue Bullers

      I think you miss what he is saying. Los isn’t saying to “only hang with the World and never get any kind of Biblical teaching”. In fact, he isn’t saying either of those two points, and if you re-read it, carefully, you’ll see he isn’t saying that. He is saying we become complacent. We find a “comfortable” niche, and sloooooooowly get to know each other over “safe” conversations in a “safe” room that everyone can be their best in. THAT is NOT the real us most of the time, and DOING things – both for the community in the name of God, and also by LIVING the EXPERIENCES God Himself gives us in this blessed life – is how we delve DEEPLY into who WE are as well as who someone else is. Los said he cried with, laughed with, and adventured with people. He in no way insinuated that he chose athiest and rejectors as his companions… though, to be real, at times, we MUST do that too to serve God’s ultimate desire – watering the seeds in His Kingdom – not preaching to the choir in our comfortable churches and homes. Experiencing things is how we spread and love more often than sitting and chatting. God’s love has to be FELT by people for conversion of a heart to happen, and if we are so wrapped up in our own small group that we barely leave its confines except to serve at a soup kitchen, then we are failing. Failing our community, failing ourselves, and mostly failing God.

  • Q

    Good points. Do what will effectively work in your group or community. Just remember these are tools you can use for a purpose. It’s not about you, not about your small groups, but ultimately it should be about the reason you are doing what you are doing. Are you doing it for Jesus?

  • Virgil Richardson

    PROTIP: If your gut reflex to this post was anger, hurt feelings, offense … it’s probably true for you.

  • Jessica Henderson

    I just wanted to comment and say… Great post. And I personally love the epic comments that strongly disagree and your responses.

  • jeffseevers

    Boom.

  • tamaracorine

    Four years ago my mother kicked me out of home with the words, “if you love your God and your church more than you love me, then you can leave. I don’t want you.” A few nights later I sat on the couch at a friend’s place. We watched New Moon together to laugh, and ate too much chocolate. As the credits rolled, my friends looked at me and said, “If your family don’t want you, we’ll have you. Join our family.”

    And so I did.
    We’ve laughed, cried and played together. We’ve written sermons sitting side by side. We’ve walked through church changes. We’ve stuck up for each other. I’ve babysat their kids and their kids have embraced me as part of their family unit.

    That’s true community.

  • http://musicalmindset-realnoimitation.blogspot.com/ Brad Robertson

    I’m a leader of a men’s small group, and a member of two others ( I REALLY like community haha). My early morning small group is about studying and focusing on how to not disconnect our work life from our Christian life. However, I would say you are correct– we are missing an aspect of intimacy because outside of that Wednesday morning breakfast we don’t do a lot together. My evening small group though… wow. Don’t get me wrong, we have some issues among us, but we’ve become like a family… a sometimes dysfunctional family, but still. We didn’t become that way by sitting in someone’s living room.. we became a family by going to baseball games, playing at a local park, serving the community together, going camping, a few of us even took a weekend roadtrip to Florida (from Indiana). It’s through those experiences that I’ve come to know and love my small groupies. We have grown, laughed, cried, and screamed (on snowtubes, rollercoasters, and boats) together which has given us insight into what community, and living life together… truly looks like. Anymore, we spend as much time, if not more, doing things together, and less sitting in circles… in the words of Los “Its better that way”

  • Joel Malm

    I completely agree. That’s why I started this: http://summitleaders.org

    Forgive the shameless promotion. Wanna speak for one of our trips?

  • VAinATL

    I SO agree with this. People who SERVE together build much stronger bonds than people who just sit around and talk. “Forced connections” to people by sitting in circles is not natural – serving God’s people is certainly more fun.

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  • Hazel Moon

    Talking is what most of us like to do, not the doing part but that is needed, very needed. Our pastor is preparing us to do something and the congregation (mostly seniors) are getting ansie. I found your post at: Rick’s saturday shortcuts
    http://www.plannedpeasanthood.com/2013/07/saturday-shortcuts-8/

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  • Chris Ames

    Sitting in circles was never the destination. Sitting in circles was the next, untaken (yet attainable) step for the majority of the row-sitters.

    It is helpful to articulate a next step because each successive step unlocks the one following.

    You cast a compelling vision for the community you experienced, but I’d wager that for most of us, it’s not the practical next step.

    Hugs and stuff :-) .

  • http://daveshrein.com Dave Shrein

    Great post! Love it. Agreed.

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