1. Most of the books that have been released over the last few years simply promote a view of community that is nothing more than more of the American way of life with a little Bible discussion spread on top.
2. Most of the talk about small groups is focused on how to close the back door by giving people a small group experience that does not interfere much with their lives but instead helps enhance their lives.
3. Most small group models are focused on providing group experiences in middle-class suburban settings.
4. Most of the talk about small groups is on how community and group life can benefit individuals.
This is the critical stuff. What about the constructive side of what I am writing?
1. I am concerned about the church being the bride of Christ that is being prepared for the return of the bridegroom. And by nature, this bride is communal, whether or not it has a perceived benefit to the lives of individualists. In fact, if we are doing community right, it will mean sacrifice of the well-being of individuals.
2. We need a vision for small groups that understands that God has called a people, which is called the church in the New Testament, that is to be a sign, foretaste and witness of God's dream for the world. In other words, we are called to live in community for the sake of those who don't have community. Of course we benefit from the experience, but just as Israel was called by God to be a sign of God's salvation, so is the church today. Therefore, we need to understand that our small groups are called to be a part of something much larger, that is the salvation of creation.
3. We need a vision for community that compels those of us who are controlled by the imagination of individualism to re-imagine what it means to belong and to be a part of something larger than ourselves. We need a vision for small groups that sees how community is about a movement, not a movement to multiply groups so we can have more people in the church but a movement to put on display the beauty of God's Kingdom in our ugly world.