by Logan Gentry:
Small groups have become a staple in the American church as a way of cultivating friendships, developing community, and encouraging spiritual formation. Pastors and other small group leaders often cite Acts 2:42-47 as the model for such community devoted to God and devoted to one another through shared time, resources, and space. But there is growing sentiment for small groups to fulfill the rest of that passage---God adding to their numbers daily---by extending the gospel of Jesus Christ to unbelievers.
We love to study the Scriptures and discuss the glorious truth of the gospel with one another, and we enjoy spending time with fellow believers. Yet we're often fearful and uneasy about what will happen if we invite people who do not believe as we do into these environments. What will happen to our intimacy? What will happen to our deep community?
I worried about the same things when church leaders first asked me to transition my community group toward an outreach focus. Now, as a pastor seeking to foster community, I'm encouraging others to transition their groups, and they're reacting with the same skepticism.
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(ht: Take Your Vitamin Z )