After giving someone a nametag, a cup of joe and a donut, what more could they want from your small group? But, then they turn to face a sea of unknown faces. Introductions are made: Glad to see you MikeMaryEarlTammyJohnSiennaSeanAmy… There is no relationship, no recognizable network here. Individuals have come together and are trying desperately to make friends: Are you…Married? Looking? With kids? Employed? Having fun, how? Married? Working? Living where? Interested in anything, anyone? Did I ask if you were married?
Establishing relationships from scratch is very, very hard work. Downright tiring. Isn’t there a better way to put a small group together?
Bible Storying works best in small groups that have a trust level built on relationships. When we look at how Jesus and His followers made disciplemakers, we see patterns for gathering groups, not individuals. Jesus encountered the woman at the well who gathered a village. Peter encountered a centurion who gathered his friends and family. Paul and Silas encountered the Philippian jailer who assembled his household.
Maybe you’ve heard about the Person of Peace, a concept from Luke 10 in which Jesus sent out His disciples to villages in which they were to look for someone upon whom their peace would stay otherwise they were to leave; keep moving on. How can this person who is receptive, has a reputation, and recommends you to others play a role in forming a new small group? The idea Jesus wanted them to get was to connect with groups of people.
Gathering people into small groups is more effective when existing relationships are harnessed. Study pockets of lostness where you live. Where are the relational lines? Family loyalties? Occupational connections? Recreational ties? Groups that are gathered from networks of existing relationships don’t need nametags because they already know each other.