Saturday, May 2, 2015

When Multiplying Feels Like Dividing

I've often written about how great our community group is.  These are the people we do life with.  We share our joys, our struggles, and the day-to-day mundane.  We encourage one another and build each other up.  We help each other move and take meals when someone is sick.  We play games, throw parties, and worship together on Sunday mornings.  We laugh together, cry together, and sometimes just sit in silence together when no words are necessary.  This is our family.

The great thing about this type of family is it's constantly growing.  New people are drawn into the fold and get to experience, and participate in the sweetness that is life in community.  The downside to this ever-expanding paradigm is that eventually your living room literally cannot hold one more person.  Our group, which gets together on Tuesday nights, grew to 28 people.  At times people were practically sitting on each others' laps.  (We're close like that, but still...)  With so many, it's hard to pour into individuals the way we ought to.  It's hard (if not impossible) for new people to feel comfortable and cared for.  And above all it's hard to develop the kind of relationships that foster growth in Christ.

The solution is what Sojourn refers to as multiplication.  That's when one CG becomes two-- the process we just went through with our group.  We appointed new leaders and hosts.  Half of the group stayed with us and half went with the other leaders.  It's bittersweet.  It's necessary.  And it is painful.  I can't tell you how many nights I spent in tears not wanting to have to go through it all again.  (Our CG multiplied a year and a half ago, and had grown from 8 to 28 in a matter of months.)  It's not that we never see those in the other group now, but it's hard to maintain that same level of closeness when we aren't part of each other's lives in the same way.  It's hard to say goodbye.

Now we are a CG of 13.  It's no longer necessary to bring every chair in the house into the living room when our group meets.  I don't have to double recipes for our Tuesday desserts.  Our house is no longer bursting at the seams come 7:00 on a Tuesday night.  But one thing there is more of is space.  Space not only to breathe, but also to share.  People who never felt like they could talk much in a group of 28 now open up and tell their story.  There is space to listen.  When you have so many people who have struggles to talk through, it's hard to hear everyone in the space of a few hours.  We're now better able to care for our people because we actually have the space and time to listen, dig deep, and pray.

 So yes, multiplying is hard.  There are no two ways about it.  But it's a beautiful picture of the expansion of God's kingdom.  When we're called to Christ we aren't called to remain stagnant.  By God's grace and through his power we're called to grow.  Not only in our own faith journeys but also as a community of believers.  We're called to be kingdom builders, and that's what I see in the microcosm of community group.  I see the body of Christ building up the kingdom brick by brick.  And it's a wonderful thing to be able to invite others into that process.  May we always be people who have room for more.

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