From time to time, people have communicated to me that there are cliques in Faith Church, as if our church family should be one big close family. We are about 100 people. There is just no way that 100 people can be equally and deeply close with one another. To believe everyone in a group of 100 can be close is an unrealistic expectation. Instead, it is far more realistic that we 100 people, in order to have close relationships, should be in smaller groupings.
It is entirely natural that some people will be closer to other people, even in a church our size. I believe we should not call groups of close friends “cliques.” There is a healthy, natural tendency for people to connect at a deeper level because they have similar interests, hobbies, ages, etc. But we can still have a practice of being kind and caring to all. It is very unhelpful to make accusations that tear down these smaller group relationships. Instead, our passion in the church family is to build each other up.
So, if 100 people need to be in smaller groupings for healthy relationships to develop, then of course, 3120 people need the same, right? Remember in the previous post how the first church grew from 120 people to 3120 people overnight? In fact, if you scan through the book of Acts, what you will see is the numbers of Christians in the church growing and growing far beyond 3120. You will see the church expanding beyond the borders of the city of Jerusalem, into Judea, Samaria and all over the known world. It would eventually become geographically impossible to be one church family.
My contention, though, is that it was numerically impossible from the start to be one big close family. Even when the church was 120 people. But did the disciples, who were now called the apostles, agree? They were the leaders of the church. What did they do to help all these thousands of people experience the relational dynamic of family?
Read Acts 2:42-47. These are the verses right after Peter preached his first sermon and 3000 believed in Jesus.
What do you notice? The first Christians, though they numbered 3120, met in small groups! They met in homes. They also met in the temple courts, which indicates that there was a time for large group gatherings as well. But we know from the account that follows that those large group meetings at the temple only occurred during the first few years of the church. Eventually the Jewish religious leaders disallowed that. After Acts 8, we never again hear of the church meeting in a large group in the temple. Instead, they met primarily in homes for the next couple hundred years.
There’s a very good reason for small groups. It is in small groups that people form close relationships. Even though Faith Church is on the smallish side, with about 100 people that call Faith Church their local church, we also meet in small groups so that people can build deeper relationships. What about your local church? Are you involved in smaller grouping that emphasize caring for one another, doing life together?