As I said in yesterday’s post: The purpose of following Christ—being a Christ-ian—is to give you an abiding, fulfilled life. To do that, you need relationship. You need Christ, certainly, but you also need other believers. You need tangible love. (1Corinthians 13) The real battle in the church is not over what you know, what you can be, or what you should or shouldn’t be doing. The real battle is within your ability to love and be loved. UN. CON. DITIONALLY!
The single most important test in which you can gauge the success of a church congregation is by the depths of their relationships with one another, AND with the surrounding community.
It all comes down to relationship; establishing, building, working on, working out, and growing—healthy and abiding relationships. This is how trust is gained. Trust is formed through relationship. You simply don’t get to talk—at least with any measure of effectiveness—about God, Jesus, faith, or much of anything else quite honestly, unless you first, FIRST, take the time to establish a trusted relationship with that person.
But again, how is this done?
I personally feel the best training you can get is when you get up the gumption to sit down and actually talk with them: To hear about the way they’re doing things; about their lives, about their struggles, about their triumphs. Spend time with them. Model the intentionality of relationship with them. Seek their trust and friendship by first being a trusted friend; receiving the openness and honesty that they put forth, and being open and honest in return. And despite much evidence to the contrary, you can be open without being weak, you can be honest without being judgmental.
The Trap of Written Rote:
Even within a church or home group setting, this can’t be done through written curriculum. Not to say there is anything wrong with having a written curriculum for your home groups to follow, but when you start believing that written material is better than personal relationship, and modeling, and asking & answering questions, you don’t understand how people learn.
That being said, the end goal is not merely to get people into small groups that are nothing more than glorified social circles. The end goal is that, within the context of small groups, we can begin doing life together in personal, meaningful relationships. Relationships that begin in the church (the hundreds), extend into the home groups (the twelve), and then, more personally, outside the group (the three): connections that are going on in the coffee shops throughout the week, or at somebody’s house, calling or texting each other to check in and keep accountable, breaking bread, lending a hand, whatever…
It’s all comes down to relationship. Meaningful. Intentional. Personal. Intimate.
Abiding—both in accountability and strength—with Christ, and with others.