Confession: I’m not a big fan of outreach small groups.
I’ve (somewhat shamefully) admitted that to exactly two people before now. It’s not a popular opinion. Scandalous, even.
Small groups (when church members organize groups that meet during the week to do various things) are mostly thought of as vital to the health of the church and the people involved, but I’m not sold. I’ve attended small groups. I’ve even hosted small groups, but I’ve always walked away with an it’s “us vs. them” mentality that I have lived my whole adult life trying to shake.
The small groups I tend to gravitate toward are outreach programs. Homeless initiatives, food pantries, clothing drives, that type of service. It’s good work, don’t get me wrong, but it always feels a bit off. A bit like “Aren’t you so lucky to have us come in and help you”. It feels condescending and that makes me sick. There is no room for superiority in love.
I have wonderful friends who organize great outreach programs and I love them and their compassionate hearts something fierce, but maybe instead of small groups that go “out into the world”, the church should be more focused on infusing the already established organizations (The Salvation Army, Guardian Ad Litem, Coalition on Homelessness, etc) with Christians who are sincerely there to love and serve without agenda; Christians who leave church affiliation behind and just light the world with love in action.
What if we had Christians who, instead of trying to fit themselves into a church small group mold, just volunteered wherever they felt passionate in their own world and radiated Light where they were? How radically would that change our communities? Our own families?
“I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather he will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did?” — Mother Teresa