By: Brett Eastman
If you want to create a church community that really cares for one another, the best way to do it is
through small groups. When small groups become the vehicle for care-giving, the whole church gets
involved in sharing one another’s burdens—a much more personal approach than relegating the task to
The whole congregation should be making hospital visits, taking meals to people when they’re sick or
something’s happened, doing childcare when someone’s in crisis and giving money when somebody’s
lost a job.
The best way to make this happen is to get everyone in groups where they love and care about each
other. Then just as it is with family, members do these kinds of things naturally. This is really just another
example of how small groups become like extended family. And as many of us live far away from our
blood relatives in this day and age, we really need that kind of connection with people.
However, for this kind of caring church to be created, it’s got to start with the pastor. He’s got to cast
the vision. He’s got to encourage the congregation to get into small groups so they can learn to care for
each other. And the best way to do this is for him to be in a small group himself. The church needs to
see that he, along with the rest of the church’s leadership, values the model.
Once people begin to catch the vision for this kind of caring community, there are a few principles that
should be emphasized:
1. Quality time with the people in your group is the key to success. This is especially important
for leaders to remember, but it holds true for every group member. The more time you can
spend with people, the greater impact you can have in their lives. You have to earn the right
with people to mentor them, lead them and challenge them. The way you earn that right is by
spending time with them and showing you are sincerely interested in them. And the way you do
that is by showing up and showing up and showing up. I know that’s difficult today. There are a
million reasons why people would say, “Yeah, that sounds great, but I have this and this in my
schedule.” I believe, though, it’s an issue of prioritizing what’s really important. And spending
time with people is critical.
2. You have to be committed to loving the people in your group. Somebody once said to me,
“There are two kinds of people in the world: the ones you know and love and the ones you
don’t know yet.” We have to consider that everybody has a story, a reason why he or she
became who he or she is. If we will take the time and energy to get to know their stories, we
will be more likely to love even those who are difficult to love. This really takes us back to the
first point—the importance of spending time with people. That is, of course, what it will take to
get to know and love them.
3. Small group members should live in a close enough geographic area so they can spend this
time together. This can enable them to interact with one another, doing everyday kinds of
things. It doesn’t have to be a planned situation. If you live close enough, then your kids end up
going to the same schools, and you find yourself running into one another at the grocery store.
Then you can have a five-minute conversation here and there and make a difference in each
Jesus said the world would know us as his followers by the love we show for one another. When we
make caring for the body of Christ a priority—helping one another through difficulties and loving one
another deeply—the world will notice we’re different and want to know why.