You can’t underestimate the importance of expectations.
Everyone who gathers in a community comes together with a set of expectations. “We’re here to study the Bible.” “We’re here to connect with each other.” “We’re here to make a difference in the community.” “We’re here to pray.” Fill in the blank, but everyone has an idea related to not just the “What?” but the “Why?” If you have twelve people in the room, you may have twelve different answers…unless you have made it crystal clear.
This is why we gather. This is why we do this. This is why we are here. If these things are not stated early and often, the group will gravitate toward the strongest voice in the room. There will also be attrition, as expectations are not met. So let’s give the “Why?” early and often, and break it into two simple things.
- We Are Here to Love God Better.
This group – first and foremost – is about loving God better. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we gather. It’s about Him. If we make it about us, we will not experience His favor and blessing. This group is about loving God better. Now, there may be a lot of different opinions when it comes to how we do that, but the why is clear. We need to state this early, and we need to state this often.
- We Are Here to Love Our Neighbors Better.
Remember this group is not just for us. It’s not “Us four and no more.” We are here to love our neighbors better, and that means our focus has to start and remain outward. If we drop the ball on this one, we quickly become a holy huddle. While there’s a place for smaller groups of accountability or more private times of great depth, our groups cannot end there. We gather so we can love our neighbors better.
I’ve been wrestling lately with the value of mission statements, covenants, and even things we repeat every week. At our church, our mission and vision state: We are the body of Christ called to be Jesus in every neighborhood in our city and beyond. I’m wondering if maybe our groups should begin every meeting with a statement – stated out loud by everyone – that says something like this:
“Remember, We are here to become more like Jesus, so we can be Jesus to our neighbors and our city.”
So our challenge is to give the “Why?” Give it early. Give it often. Make sure everyone understands with great clarity. That way when you ask twelve people, “Why are we here?”, there may only be one answer instead of twelve.