“In Church” ≠ “Insider”
Despite the unity intended for the church, outsiders continue to permeate the pews. Those searching for community often end up with a list of check-boxes. Single? Married? Empty-nester? Widow? Parents of school-aged children or teenager? College student, or young professional? Life-stage groups often serve those within them really well. Young families have built-in best friends for their kiddos. Empty-nesters bond over the accomplishments and struggles of their grown children. College students go on weekend retreats and attend annual talks on dating. However, that type of grouping becomes problematic in communities where one particular life stage has a lowered prevalence. Suburbs that tend to draw young families often have church populations with a higher family attendance rate. Cities that house larger numbers of young professionals have some of the largest young adult groups. Everything evens out, right?
Not quite. Divorcee moms and dads sometimes live in major cities; single professionals often wind up in the suburbs. But because churches often cultivate and organize small groups based on life stage, the boxes we check to ensure our own sense of belonging can serve as the very things that drive others into isolation.
Leadership teams can unfortunately create similar divisions. Serving alongside others can usher church members into a wonderful depth of fellowship with one another. Leadership teams are not the enemy. But when those teams or groups turn inward, when they stop looking to expand, or when they put a cap on the number of people they invite or include, they cease to take part in the interconnected design for the church’s expansion. A successful leadership team seeks out opportunities to pull in new members, trains those individuals to lead others, and launches them into leadership positions of their own.
Although community groups and leadership teams both exist to serve churches, they can end up creating grown-up high school lunch tables—cliques where members find their belonging within the larger whole. God reveals himself uniquely through every phase of human life. His attributes express his love to all members of his household regardless of their marital, parental, or leadership statuses. Therefore, when we fail to surround ourselves with a variety of people, both insiders and outsiders within the church miss seeing parts of God’s multifaceted character expressed through the diversity of his people.
About The Author
Sarah is a student at Dallas Theological Seminary working on her Masters in Theology with an emphasis on New Testament studies. She is passionate about giving everyday people access to robust biblical knowledge, in order that they may understand more fully the intricacy and depth of God’s love for them. Sarah resides in Arlington, Texas with her husband Josh and their two girls, Hannah and Addie.