If you want to create a church community that really cares for one another, the best way to do it is through small groups. When small groups become the vehicle for care-giving, the whole church gets involved in sharing one another's burdens—a much more personal approach than relegating the task to a committee.
The whole congregation should be making hospital visits, taking meals to people when they're sick or something's happened, doing childcare when someone's in crisis and giving money when somebody's lost a job.
The best way to make this happen is to get everyone in groups where they love and care about each other. Then just as it is with family, members do these kinds of things naturally. This is really just another example of how small groups become like extended family. And as many of us live far away from our blood relatives in this day and age, we really need that kind of connection with people.
However, for this kind of caring church to be created, it's got to start with the pastor. He's got to cast the vision. He's got to encourage the congregation to get into small groups so they can learn to care for each other. And the best way to do this is for him to be in a small group himself. The church needs to see that he, along with the rest of the church's leadership, values the model.
Once people begin to catch the vision for this kind of caring community, there are a few principles that should be emphasized:
- Quality time with the people in your group is the key to success. This is especially important for leaders to remember, but it holds true for every group member. The more time you can spend with people, the greater impact you can have in their lives. You have to earn the right with people to mentor them, lead them and challenge them. The way you earn that right is by spending time with them and showing you are sincerely interested in them. And the way you do that is by showing up and showing up and showing up. I know that's difficult today. There are a million reasons why people would say, "Yeah, that sounds great, but I have this and this in my schedule." I believe, though, it's an issue of prioritizing what's really important. And spending time with people is critical.