Before we think about small groups, let’s think about bread.
A few weeks ago, I went to pack my lunch and I pulled out a full loaf of expired bread. It wasn’t pretty. It was green and white and wet and ruined. So it became trash instead of lunch.
And guess what? I didn’t do anything to make that happen. That’s just what bread does. It sits on the shelf and decays. It greens. Bread goes bad.
Bread goes bad just like everything else goes bad. It’s called entropy, and it is the reality in which we live. Bread molds, bananas brown, and bodies weaken every day. Everything around us is diminishing, decaying, and dying.
I hope you are encouraged by this blog today.
But it’s true. Everything around us is perishing and fading away.
This past Monday night, as my family drove home from our small group gathering, my wife said to me, “I wish we could be in this small group forever.”
I thought, “Me too.” But then I thought of moldy bread.
Seriously. I remembered the bad bread and I realized that this is an impossible wish. Our group won’t always exist. We won’t meet in Ben and Amanda’s living room forever. Entropy alone says it can’t be done. Even if by some miracle, the seventeen of us who gather together every Monday night for the next sixty years, at some point, someone won’t be there. We know, truly and deeply, even when only in the back of our minds, that we cannot keep the ones we love.
Bread goes bad. Life ends in death.
And that means our groups can’t be about our groups. Our conversations can’t be centered on us. OUR community, OUR fellowship can’t be our shining and highest goal. That is an exercise in futility, in light of our impermanence.
I love the people I “group” with. I treasure our time. I’ve been with some of them for years, but we can’t actually be the reason we are together. Our love for one another can’t be our main focus. Because my group can’t last and your group can’t last.
Only One thing can.
“My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” – John 10:27-30
As a people who don’t know anything everlasting, there is one thing we can keep. There is one person we won’t lose—Jesus. He is forever and ever. He is untouched by entropy and unphased by time. Jesus is everlasting, and He came into the world so that we can be everlasting. We can keep Him forever, because He can keep us forever.
So, we do most for those we love in our groups when we help them consider and call on and cling to the only One who will never miss a Monday. The life of our groups is not primarily about our love for each other, but about His love for us. And we push each other deeper and deeper into loving His love, knowing that we can’t keep our group, but we will keep our God.
Help your group remember why you are a group. Bread goes bad. Groups go away. Jesus is forever.
Brandon Hiltibidal is a former church planter and multi-site pastor, and he is now part of the Groups Ministry team at Lifeway Christian Resources. He and his wife Scarlet have three little girls and lead a community group at The Bridge Church in Spring Hill, TN.