What is the Problem with Small Groups?

Reality Check

Do you ever get your feelings hurt? Do you ever take offense?  Have you ever noticed that the closer you get to people the more often they hurt your feelings?  Of course you have, that is why you don’t have very many close friends.  It is also the most significant problem to being part of a small group.  It is also why many people have given up on “Church” itself. For some reason, we tend to think, “My “church” family would never accidentally or intentionally hurt me.”  So, when it happens, we try to find some place or people that will never hurt us again.  We even try to give up on people, but we can not.  Sooner or later, time and again, our feelings get hurt.  

It will happen in a Small Group.  Even one that loves Jesus.

broken-heart2

Not A New Thing

Philippians 4:1-3 NLT – 1 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work. 2 Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. 3 And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.

One of the most tender and motivating books of the New Testament is Philippians.  The Church at Philippi was a loving place, and even here in the heart of the New Testament, is a contention between two godly women. If the Church at Philippi can have these kinds of problems then no Church nor small group can ever expect to be free from the difficulty of hurt feelings and offenses.

People attend Small Groups

I think if it weren’t for the people, small groups would be easy.  Well, on second thought, maybe not. God knows I have certainly argued with myself during my own private quiet times.

There are times when a statement is made or the body language of someone makes me wonder, “What did they mean by that?”  Then I make a choice, usually without thinking.  Either I let it go or I take offense.  Recently I have embraced a new thought process. I have realized that just because someone spreads all their junk on the table does not mean I have to sack it up and take it home.  “Taking an offense” is a choice.  A small group is a little like a garage sale.  We lay out our stuff.  It’s stuff we need to get rid of so we can make room for more important things.  Some of it really is junk, but it is important junk because it was part of our lives.  Often it was a piece of a very important or critical moment.  There it is for others to see, and we hope, they will help us get rid of it.  But they don’t always know what to do with our junk.  Sometimes, they can’t see why our junk is important to us.  Our heart takes the punch, and we box up all of our feelings, slam the garage door and say to ourselves, “I am never doing this again.”  We then return to our normal work-a-day lives. While there in the dark corner of the garage, lay boxes of unresolved junk, taking up space, crowding out important things, and never, ever coming to the light of day.

People Are Not Thinking About You

Philippians 2:3 NLT – 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

There was a time in my life that I assumed the things people said to me were the products of their thoughts about me.  I was wrong. I now believe that the words people speak to me are most often the product of their thoughts about themselves.  I know it sounds very cynical, but hear me out.

The only experience a person can really know and attempt to understand is their own.  Personal history shapes ideas, values, and habits but, one person’s history is very different from another person’s.  In fact, two people can experience the same or similar difficulties yet come to completely opposite conclusions based upon their interpretation and understanding of what has happened.  It has been said…

We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are

Soooo… Rather than take an offense, why not take a moment to empathize.  I would like to learn to ask questions instead of assume answers.  Some of the questions I am learning to ask are… What are the personal wounds that caused this discussion or statement?  Why did it hurt me?  What does it say about me or to me that it hurt me?  How can we truly heal?

Romans 14:1 NLT – 1 Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.

John Maxwell once stated, “It is not the things that happen to you that matter, but rather the things that happen IN you.”

Why a Small Group?

I completely understand the question.  Why would you knowingly enter into a situation where getting your feelings hurt is not only possible but probable.  I can think of a few reasons but will only mention two.

First, because it is critical that we get rid of our junk.  We simply believe so many things that are not true. We have been hurt in life and those hurts have convinced us that lies are true.  We have all of these discussions in our hearts based upon those lies that no one can help us resolve.  We need the affirmation of others to let those lies go.

Second, because it is impossible to be transformed into the likeness of Christ without getting hurt. If there was ever a person who had the right to get offended it was Jesus.  Yet, he took all of our offense and died with them.  He forgave them all.  We could not hurt Jesus so much that He would take offense at us.  In fact, He bore it all that He could take all offense from us.  If we are to be like Christ, then getting hurt is part of the deal.

2 Corinthians 1:5 NLT – 5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.