My family spends a week each year in a quaint old farmhouse with no television. “Quaint” and “TV” don’t really fit. I always bring a variety of books just in case one of them ends up being a dud. This year I brought a John Grisham novel (it doesn’t matter which one–they’re all the same); In Love and War by James and Sybil Stockdale (Jim Collins just mentioned it one too many times); and The Search to Belong by Joseph Myers (which was on Carl George’s nightstand).
Joe Myers’ book was the first book of the week. I enjoyed his writing style, well, until I actually began to pay attention to what he was saying. Then, it just made me mad. In mid-paragraph I would stop reading to myself and begin to read the book aloud to my wife. “Listen to this guy: Joe Myers says, ‘A church of small groups? Sounded like forced relational hell to me'” (page 10).
“Exactly,” my wife responded.
“You, you can’t say that. I’m the Small Groups Pastor. You can’t say that.” This was a matter of job security. The last thing I needed was bad P.R. from my co-leader and spouse.
I continued to read much like I watch Christian television or slow to see the wreckage of a car accident. With each page turn I anticipated that this guy would finally hang himself. What exactly was he getting at? What was his agenda? Did he envision the church as some sort of YMCA-like gathering place where belonging overshadowed belief?
The more I read, the more irritated I became. Jesus didn’t commission us to go into the world and connect people. Yet, Joe Myers so much as invalidated “fully-devoted followers.” What about Acts 2:42?!!
This book that I loved to hate gave me a key insight: Everyone in our congregation WAS already connected. Maybe not to each other, but they were all connected to somebody: a family, friends, co- workers, neighbors, and other church members. My job changed with one epiphany: I no longer needed to connect the unconnected. I just needed to invited folks to do a 6-week DVD-based Bible study with people they were already connected to. How simple is that?
I’m pleased to say that in our Fall campaign this year, just over 1/3 of our groups were formed exactly this way. Each week a group of friends, co- workers or neighbors are gathering in a home, a break room, even on a train and studying God’s Word.
Thank you, Joe Myers for writing the book that I love to hate.
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