Of course, small groups have become a part of the programming most churches offer their people. For the most part, they are disappointing and short-lived — by the very admission of those who try them. There are two reasons. One, you can't just throw a random group of people together for a twelve week study of some kind, and expect them to become intimate allies. The sort of devotion we want and need takes place within a shared life. Over the years our fellowship goes camping together. We play together; help one another move; paint a room; find work. We throw great parties. We fight for each other, live in the Four Streams. This is how it was meant to be.
I love this description of the early church: "All the believers were one in heart" (Acts 4:32 ). There is a camaraderie being expressed there, a bond, an espri de corps. It means they all love the same thing, they all want the same thing, and they are bonded together to find it come hell or high water. And hell or high water will come, friends, and this will be the test of whether or not your band will make it: If you are one in heart. Judas betrayed the brothers because his heart was never really with them, just as Cipher betrays the company on the Nebuchadnezzar and as Boromir betrays the fellowship of the Ring. Good Lord — churches split over the size of the parking lot or the color of the carpet. Most churches are not "one in heart."
God is calling together little communities of the heart, to fight for one another and for the hearts of those who have not yet been set free. That commeraderie, that intimacy, that incredible impact by a few stouthearted souls — that is available. It is the Christian life as Jesus gave it to us. It is completely normal.
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