My wife, Jessica, and I are scouting neighborhoods lately looking at where we might lock in for the next foreseeable 15 years. As we look around, the same thoughts recycle. How much home do we really need? What about the schools? How do we eliminate as much commute and as little of our current community as possible?
Regardless of where we look, the master planned community always seems to beckon with their new homes, immaculate streets, and recreational options enticing homebuyers to come and live their lives in perfect comfort. There’s no doubt homebuilders face a huge challenge as they strive to slice out the perfect community for each homebuyer while still being able to make a profit.
Like the homebuilder, leading a church small group presents a similar challenge, with each leader making efforts to see the “profit”, i.e., the spiritual growth of each member. But, unlike the promises of a master planned community, it’s rare to find a healthy small group where the leader makes perfection and comfort the key selling points.
Small groups aren’t perfect because they are made up of people. Like any home, new or old, each group member has imperfections requiring maintenance only God can provide. Small groups include ongoing renovation projects. It’s common to find lives that have been flipped, gutted from sin and rebuilt on the foundation of Jesus Christ. Insulated, studded and braced by community, Biblical teaching, worship and local and global mission focus, each member can bring their own unique interior and exterior of life experience, personality and gifting from God to the table.
Comfort is not the key to small groups. Leaders are called to challenge each member and themselves to move outside their comfort zone in a variety of ways, whether engaging sin with scripture, sharing the gospel or serving others. Without these elements, the small group quickly becomes a ghost town rather than a Holy Spirit filled community.
Though the siren-call of the pristine master planned community is hard to ignore while searching for our next home, Jessica and I have found our favorite communities to be those which are unique and have a little renovation going on around them. This is a representation of the life we’ve come to know as we live out our faith as the individuals God made us to be and the type of community we want to engage in for years to come.
If you lead, attend or are searching for a small group, it’s good to remember how God’s master plan of reconciliation through the perfect life, death and resurrection of His son is the only one that can bring us comfort.