It has been a difficult 5 months for us at our church. Last fall, our senior pastor was found to be in sin. The elders immediately asked for his resignation. Two days later, in our Sunday services, we announced what had happened and have been dealing with this "earthquake" and its aftershocks since that day.
How does a church survive such a trauma? How do we hold our church family together through such a difficult time? For us, it has been our small groups that have helped us through this last 5 months. Before this tragic event, we had about 50% of our church family in small groups. We have discovered that the community of families sharing life together has helped us to live through something none of us ever expected to happen.
We have had people leave our church. A church always loses people when something like this happens. It has been very difficult to watch.It has been heartbreaking to see longtime members simply walk away from our church. I got an e-mail tonight telling me of another family that has decided to call it quits. For all our best efforts, there are families who have left our church looking for another church family.
What I have seen is this—those who are not in a small group are those who have left our church. Not all of them, mind you, but most of those who have left the church were not committed to a small group community. The small groups create "Velcro." Those in small groups have a community of people who care for them, who pray with them, who love them and, most of all, who provide a place to share the hurts and sorrows of life. They have a place to grieve. They have a family of believers to care for them.
In light of our pastoral loss, the elders of our church have put us to this task—to ...