Just how long does it take for a group to grow close? How many group meetings must happen before hearts are tuned in to one another? When does real community begin to happen? These are questions that are not often asked by group members, but often are asked by small group pastors. Why? Group maturity, growing towards community, signals a healthy group experience. When groups become knitted together, group life becomes transformational. It is an exciting process to say the least, but the question remains, "How long does it take for real community to take effect?" I maintain that it takes close to three months for group members to develop the beginnings of community and the process of connecting. In that three-month period, there are a few things that a group can do to "push the envelope" and to get groups focused upon Jesus Christ and one another. Perhaps the best way to begin developing community is when group members tell their story.
It has been said that everyone has a story. We all have stories about childhood days or growing up. We have stories about meaningful life experiences. We have stories about defeats and victories, and we can tell about many of the lessons learned along the way. Almost everyone in a group has a story about faith and about how they came to be in a small group.
When a group first comes together, story telling is essential. Let me share a few ways group members can share their life stories without jeopardizing their group experiences or hurting the purposes of the group gathering.
Leaders lead the way. The first person in the group that gets the privilege of telling his or her story is the group leader or facilitator. The wonderful thing about leadership is that the leaders get to set the boundaries ...