A man walked into a convenience store, threatened the clerk with a knife, and demanded cash. When she gave him the money, he thanked her, walked out and proceeded to sit down on the curb in front of the store. When police arrived, he jumped up and announced to them that he was the man they wanted. The perplexed police officers put him in cuffs and arrested him. At the trial, he gave his reason for robbing the store and for immediately giving himself up. He had recently been released from jail, and he missed his cell mates. He wanted to return to prison so that he could be with them again. He got his wish.
Ahh, the power of community! Some people will do just about anything to have it, and when it is taken away, they will desire it so much that they will do almost anything to get it back. Small groups in the church are in the unique position to offer that kind of real, authentic community to a world of people who desire it.
Paul and Silas knew firsthand about the power of this kind of community:
" They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn't escape. So he took no chances but put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks. Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening" (Acts 16:23-25, NLT).
The community Paul and Silas shared was making an impact on the prisoners around them. People were listening. You know the rest of the story—after a sudden, foundation-rocking earthquake, Paul and Silas saved the guard from committing suicide, led the man to Christ, and baptized him and his whole family.
This is a great model for us today of how a "small group" can make an impact ...