Today’s blog post is an excerpt from a book written by my boss, Dr. Eric Geiger. He and Dr. Ed Stetzer co-authored Transformational Groups, which helps us to gain insights into the dynamics that cause groups to grow as they seek to become healthy places for people to study and connect. In this excerpt, Eric and Ed help us understand the need for people to connect relationally by using an airplane illustration, one with which we can all identify. They say:
When we fly on an airplane, we are associated with the people surrounding us. We are on the same flight scheduled to land at the same airport. We experience the same bumps, the same views, and the same food. We arrive at the same gate, at the same time, peruse the same magazine in the seat pocket in front of us, listen to the same announcements, and are greeted by the same flight attendants. But despite having the same experience and being next to one another, we are typically not in community with those around us. We associate, but we don’t participate…We fear many churches are like an airplane. Everyone is headed to the same place and filled with people who associate but who don’t participate…The staff may experience community with one another and may be, therefore, oblivious to the lack of community among attenders. If you are a church leader, don’t settle for mere association. Preach and plan for participation. Don’t be content to lead an airplane-ride church. A church like this has a lot of passengers, but few are transformed. This requires community.
In my experience the groups in which people can connect and form community are smaller, newer, and discussion-centered. How are your groups doing in connecting people in a community of believers who help them experience spiritual transformation? Would you say your groups ministry is one of association or participation?