Heather, who oversees the community life at National Community Church in Washington DC, discusses small group ministry in a frank but grace-filled manner. She puts into words what I’ve seen time and time again: Community, and the discipleship that’s produced by it, is messy because people are messy. My wife and I experience this first hand as we lead two distinctly different small groups. While one is made up entirely of Christ-followers and the other isn't, both can be and actually are often messy.
Here are a few takeaways from the interview that apply directly to how churches should view the difficult, and sometimes messy, elements of community:
“I’ve discovered that mess can actually be beneficial; mess may be the catalyst God uses to cultivate the community and drive the transformation we so desperately want to see.”
“People aren’t discipled by programs. They are discipled by relationship.”
Even though dealing with messiness is sometimes uncomfortable, messiness leads to authenticity. And authenticity is the first step to genuine community.
Community might be messy, but:
- It changes lives.
- It brings church members together.
- It builds relationships.
- It impacts communities.
- It’s worth it.
What are some practical ways your church helps small group leaders deal with the messiness of community? How have you seen messiness change people within your church?