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Velcroed for Growth

Over the next few days I want to review a chapter from the book Contrarians Guide to Knowing God: Spirituality for the Rest of Us by Larry Osborne. He wrote a chapter titled “Velcroed for Growth” that is very appropriate for Real Life Connections.

As a way of introduction, Osborne writes how people who isolate themselves find it difficult to get help when they need it. The reason? Because no one knows about it. “But those who have close and transparent relationships experience a completely different reality. When a crisis hits, they usually find people quick, even eager, to help” (p. 61). Osborne continues on writing “Developing close and transparent relationships is an important part of preparing for life’s inevitable calamities.” How do we develop these kinds of relationships?

Most people assume church is the answer to close relationships. Osborne disagrees because churches have become too big. He asserts that churches are primarily for teaching and encouraging spiritual growth; small groups are the best answer to developing close relationships. He compares small groups to the “house churches” of the New Testament; a small group of people gathering on a regular basis, building transparent relationships with each other.

“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” Acts 2:46-47 (NIV).

In accordance with the title of his book, Osborne says it’s contrarian to be part of a small group. He says only a small percentage of people who regularly attend church are part of a small group. Sadly, most people only have one or two close friends who know them well enough to be transparent. Moreover, in most cases, our spouse is one of those two! Why is this the case? According to Osborne it’s because small groups are pushed and advertised by churches to provide a benefit we never fully realize. We attend small groups to study the Bible or for some other purpose, when all along we miss the main point of a small group.

Osborne says the greatest value small groups can provide is “accelerators of spiritual growth.” The accelerators are connectedness, peer pressure, and honesty. Over the next few days I want to spend some time reflecting on these three accelerators. They seem to go hand in hand with the purpose of Real Life Connections. Until then…

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  1. Dave Samples
    January 10, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    I’m not familiar with Osborne’s writing but I like what you’ve shared of his writing. It’s similar to what Brennan Manning shares in The Ragamuffin Gospel. Manning illustrates true koinonia as a twelve-step AA group that he participated in. He says that the AA group’s koinonia was built around their weaknesses and failures (humility) whereas what most churches call koinonia is a false fellowship built around “perceived” strengths. We are attempting to capture the relationship idea in the new and improved way that we do deacon ministry. We begin by asking our deacons to identify 4-5 potential care-giver that they are ALREADY in strong relationship with. Each of those potential care-givers then idntifies 4-5 peope to care for that they are ALREADY in strong relationship with. Thus these care-giving groups are built on already-existing relationships. It’s not perfect but much better than what we were doing. We can talk more about the potential when I’m not having to type…lol. I’m looking forward to learning about these acceleators. I’ll be looking for the next installment…–Dave

  2. Jim Harger
    January 10, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    The observation of false fellowship being built around “perceived” strengths is an interesting perception. I would venture a guess that more churches fit into this category than care to admit. Thanks, Dave!-jim

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