I just finished reading a book by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer called Transformational Church. It was good, not so different from many of my views and how I perceive the values of the church I attend to be, as it embraces many of the facets this book affirms and addresses: Discerning a Missional Mindset. Embracing Vibrant Leadership, Relational Intentionality and Prayerful Dependence. Engaging through Worship, Community and Mission. Much of the book was rather like a review, and yet it was affirming to me that I'm at the right church, a church committed to reaching out, loving others and making disciples.
One of the aspects that the book advocates is that both a large church gathering and a small-group gathering is important and beneficial. I liked that because I appreciate and value corporate gathering. I enjoy hearing a message that the pastor prepared. I enjoy singing with other folks. I don't see Sunday morning as "performance oriented" as some large church critics say. I think the focus could easily get that way, but I think most churches want to glorify God through excellence in their Sunday morning service.
The chapter in this book almost won me over to the importance of small groups, because if one is truly a committed Christian that wants others to know and grow in Christ, then one will want to be in a small group community. Here is an illustration from the book that made a lot of (scary) sense to me:
"By engaging in a small group or Sunday School class, the dynamic changes. Larger gatherings are like the showroom at your local car dealership. Tire kicking, curiosity, and the value of life with Christ are put on display for the crowd to see. But if the large gathering is the showroom, then the small group is the service department where we look under the hood of our lives and explore faith in Christ more deeply. Dialogue replaces monologue. Tough questions about God, the Bible and Jesus Christ are worked out in community. The smaller community also provides the platform to help others who are struggling. The community demonstrates how to merge Jesus Christ with everyday challenges by looking deeply into one another's lives and helping one anotehr engage Christ in the most difficult times. Small-group relationships provide the environment for transformation."
What do you think about small groups? Is a small group truly necessary to provide the growth, discipleship and outward focus that is needed to bring others to Christ? How important is community and "doing life together?" Is it even possible to "do life together" in the area I live in, when we are all so busy and have jobs, soccer practice, church and all kinds of other activities vying for attention? Or are those very activities and act of doing life together?