Here's a question to reflect on this holiday season: how connected are you to other people? It can be difficult to even know how to decide on an answer to this, living in an age when relational connectedness is often measured in Likes, Shares, and Retweets. Maybe we need a more focused reflection question-how often and with whom are you sharing your life in a way that is grounded in Christ-like love?
As a small group leader, another valuable exercise is to ask that same question about the members of your group. Are there people in their lives (maybe other group members) who are asking questions, sharing stories, confessing sin, offering accountability, and giving encouragement?
By valuing and modeling real, authentic community, you can help your group members experience relationships that exceed the substitutes abounding on social media and Netflix. This will be good for them (and you) not just because friendships are fun or because it's therapeutic to sing Kumbaya together. Real, transformational discipleship happens in the context of authentic relationships. In the words of the Discipleship Handbook (Harrington and Patrick):
"Relationships are where we recover from the effects of sin and receive the support we need when we struggle. Community is where God does His best work. Nobody flourishes when they stand alone. Nobody breaks the power of sin or overcomes an addiction by going it alone. Nobody experiences a deeper life with God when they stand alone. And nobody can become a disciple all by himself."
This season, how can you share your whole life (the good, the bad, and the ugly) with your small group?