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Posted by on Nov 18, 2010 in Blog |

Open Groups – Part 5: Remind Members that Group Life is 24/7

This is the final post in this series regarding “open groups”.  If you’re just now joining the conversation that started with a question by some of our group leaders and a phone call between me and Rick Howerton, you can get up to speed by catching up on the previous four posts:

Part 1: Open Groups
Part 2: Kingdom Mindset
Part 3: The Open Chair
Part 4: The Group Covenant

In a way, I have inadvertently saved the “best” for last.  I believe this final bit of wisdom shared by Rick strikes at the heart of small group life.  Unfortunately, it is a key element that can easily be overlooked, leading to a small group becoming nothing more than another event added to our already overbooked schedules.  When it comes to promoting an open group, Rick says:

“Help people to see that groups are 24/7, not a once-a-week meeting.  Deep intimacy among members can be maintained even when the group is open as they ‘do life’ together outside the once-a-week meeting.”

A healthy small group does not limit itself to the 90-120 minute weekly meetings.  Meaningful relationships are not produced “on the clock”, but are instead formed as all of life is shared over time.  Think about the relationships that are dearest to you.  How did they become so important and deep?  It wasn’t because you scheduled a weekly meeting, but because you made time to get together and be with one another at all hours of the week.

The same is true for your group members.  While the meeting times are important to nurture relationships, those who are truly committed to one another make time at other hours to be together—for breakfast, coffee, ball games, and road trips. 

If members of your group balk at the idea of bringing in an “outsider” for fear it will stunt relational growth, remind them that the most important hours of their week aren’t necessarily the 1.5 – 2 “official group hours”, but the other 168 available to them as well.