Why Small Groups?

WHY SMALL GROUPS

The need for intentionally developing Christian community via small
groups is increasingly vital as the result of several cultural trends.

1. THE BREAKDOWN OF NETWORKS OF NATURAL COMMUNITY

a. Changes in the Structure of the Family

Shifts in last century:

  • Rural to urban (late 1800's)
  • Towards suburban living (post WWII)
  • Move away from extended family
  • Increasingly cloudy roles and functions (i.e., dual career families)
  • Decreased emphasis on relationship building within the home

b. Changes in the Neighborhood

  • Neighborhood defined as a place where you know the people who live around you and who have some commitment to each other's well being
  • Culture is shifting away from this environment and this is related to the increase in crime in the city
  • From space to density (rural to suburban) resulting in relationship overload
  • Movement from single family housing to condominiums and apartments
  • 50% of American families relocate every 5 years usually for career advancement

c. Structure of the Workplace


Relationships are subject to:

  • competition
  • proximity
  • game playing
  • mobility (i.e., transfers,promotions)

2. THE FRAGMENTATION AMD DISCONTINUITY OF LIFE TODAY

In past generations, individuals tended to be less mobile such
that their relationships with people were cultivated over the
course of life through education, work, social and religious functions,
With an increase in mobility, this environment is increasingly
infrequent. Thus, very few people know each other over time.
Additionally, different groups demand certain aspects of us, not
knowing of the other roles that we carry on.

 

 

Factors which re-enforce this trend:

 

  • specialized education (esp. college)
  • specialized career paths
  • rise of one issue factions (i.e., abortion, ERA)
  • collapse of national magazines
  • diversity of T.V. through cable
  • shifts in career and family commitments

Resulting in:

  • increase in fragmentation
  • loss of wholeness in life
  • feelings of rootlessness, cut-off, disconnected, and isolated

3. THE SPECTATOR CULTURE

  • Enormous impact of T.V. on society
  • Creates illusion of involvement

Dangers (from Christian perspective)

  • not in relationship with one another
  • deceived by the "apparent" ease of activity (i.e., watching pro football or recorded music)
  • easy to become overly critical

4. THE SELF-FULFILLMENT ETHIC

The impact of humanistic psychology has been both positive and
negative. Negatively, it has undermined people's commitment to
others because it wasn't meeting "their needs". This philosophy
has perpetuated a myth that the purpose of life is to focus on
one's own needs especially when they are being inhibited by others.
This is exemplified by society's aversion to pain and suffering
as if it was not a natural part of life.