Churches must grow larger and smaller at the same time. The larger a church gets, the more intentional it has to be about being smaller, and small groups are the ideal way to create micro-communities within the larger church family. Every congregation is a fellowship of fellowships, a combination of associations, interest groups, and constituencies.
In my last post, I shared with you the first five of ten building blocks for biblical community. In this second part, I’m sharing the other five.
This is key because next to fear, pride destroys relationships more quickly than anything else. That’s why 1 Peter 5:5 is so important for us as believers. “Clothe yourself with humility towards one another.” Humility means being honest about my weaknesses because I have them. Humility is being willing to admit it when I’ve made a mistake because we all do. Humility enables us to say the four most difficult words, “I need your help.” The three most difficult words, “I was wrong.” The two most difficult words, “Forgive me.”
Most people don’t have anyone in their lives who loves them enough to be honest with them, to be frank with them, to tell them the truth. The Bible says, “Speak the truth in love.” Being candid and being connected go together. Healthy relationships and healthy groups are built on honesty and not on flattery or on faking it.
The fact is, every fellowship is composed of imperfect people so people are going to be hurt. The issue is, how do you handle the hurt? It’ll determine whether the fellowship splits up or stays together. How do you handle the honesty of life, the conflicts of life? “You must make allowances for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you so you must forgive others.” The motivation for mercy? God’s been merciful to me. If you call yourself a Christian you have to show mercy to people when they ask forgiveness.
Fellowship is built on confidentiality. You’ll never develop any close fellowship in your small group without confidentiality. In fact, the quickest way to destroy a small group is gossip. There are dozens of verses on gossip. God has a lot to say on gossip. He says, “No one who gossips can be trusted with a secret, but you can put confidence in someone who’s trustworthy.” The church and small groups ought to be the safest place in the world.
This is the tenth and the highest building block. Unity is the ultimate pinnacle of fellowship. Where do we get unity? We discover unity around God’s purposes, not around a personality. You can have unity without uniformity. Does God want us all to be alike? No. Does God want us to be unified? Yes. Ten times in the first five chapters of Acts it says, “They were of one accord. They were unified . . . They were all together . . . They were of one heart . . . of one spirit.” When we have the unity of the book of Acts in our church we will have the power of the book of Acts in our church.