Note: This article has been excerpted from Christianity Beyond Belief, by Todd D. Hunter.
"Three Is Enough" (TIE) groups are a simple way to practice following God in the way of Jesus. They are my way of implementing the ideas in this book. We have discussed a new way of thinking about what it means to be a Christian and a new way to live based on that understanding. Three Is Enough groups give us a practical way to do it.
"Three Is Enough" has a double meaning: (1) three friends or colleagues (2) doing three simple and humble activities. Functioning in places of daily life—the workplace, school, retirement home or local coffee shop—Three Is Enough groups go on the inward journey of transformation and the outward journey of serving others.
Three Is Enough Activities
To put flesh on the idea of being the cooperative friends of Jesus for the sake of others, participants in Three Is Enough groups do three things:
- Pray for alertness to the Spirit's leadership and guidance. Pray that we might pay attention to the people and events of our life. Pray that the Spirit will enable us to be ambassadors of the kingdom in the routines of our life. Pray for the ability to do good for others. And pray for the members of our group as we go on this journey.
- Grow by reading material that facilitates the journey inward and the journey outward. Grow by meditating on the things the Spirit highlights in our reading. And grow by discussing our reading with our TIE group once a week.
- Serve others by being alert, by noticing others. Serve others through creative, resourceful and inventive help. Serve others by being humble, gentle, generous and genuinely altruistic—we do not draw attention to ourselves or our TIE group. God desires that we become his cooperative friends, serving others—the least, the last, the broken and the oppressed—in the everyday affairs and rhythms of our life. If following Jesus means anything, it means serving others (Mark 10:41-45).
Three Is Enough groups are not an end in themselves. Once we've started on the inner journey and are sharing with our TIE partners what we are reading and learning, we start looking for small but meaningful ways to serve our community. While it takes some minimal facilitation along the way, it takes no special leadership for it to work and multiply. And the group can serve in any context. For example, several nurses could band together to do this on a hospital floor. They could pray when appropriate. They could serve grieving families. In short, their floor is no longer merely their place of work; it becomes the soil of their discipleship and missional engagement with the world.
Families living in the same apartment complex could do the same. They could babysit for exhausted two-income parents. They could help the elderly do some spring cleaning or pot some flowers. Three policemen could do the same on their shift. They could give practical aid to fellow officers whose families are feeling the strain of police work. They could care for young moms who have just given birth while their police-officer husbands are working. A few corporate parking-lot attendants could band together to pray for each employee as they drive in and out of the lot each work day.
A Three Is Enough group is like rails to run on. It provides the structure for being alert to the Spirit and paying attention to the people and events of our life. It guides our growth as we serve others.