Growing Closer to Each Other; Growing More Like Christ
|Picture Source: I Love Charts|
How close a person stands to you should be somewhat dependent on how well that person knows you.
You wouldn't expect a complete stranger to be standing nose-to-nose with you (unless you are at Disney World on a crowded monorail). Conversely, you might wonder if something is amiss if your spouse is never willing to stand within ten feet of you.
We can learn alot of relationships by simply observing the average amount of space between two people (assuming personal hygiene isn't an issue).
Similar principles apply in small groups. Not every small group activity is appropriate for every small group. It may not be a good idea to ask people to confess their deepest sin in a group that has been together for three weeks (confession is one of those activities that requires a GREAT amount of trust). At the same time, you might wonder about a group that has been together for four years but is still unwilling to share prayer requests with each other.
As the relationships within a group deepen, the degree of intimacy in the group's activity should increase. Conversations should move from being peripheral to being personal. Bible study should move from friendly banter to engaged and passionate discussion. Prayer time should shift from a list of "unspoken" requests to sharing the burdens of the soul.
As a leader, be careful not to push intimacy too quickly or to expect deep relationships instantly. This kind of group ethos can't be manufactured. However, don't be content to keep your group at arm's length either. A group that stagnates relationally will also stagnate spiritually.
As Jesus said in John 13, our love for one another is an indicator of our love for Him. Groups that are growing in love will also be growing in grace.