As a way of introduction, Osborne writes how people who isolate themselves find it difficult to get help when they need it. The reason? Because no one knows about it. “But those who have close and transparent relationships experience a completely different reality. When a crisis hits, they usually find people quick, even eager, to help” (p. 61). Osborne continues on writing “Developing close and transparent relationships is an important part of preparing for life’s inevitable calamities.” How do we develop these kinds of relationships?
Most people assume church is the answer to close relationships. Osborne disagrees because churches have become too big. He asserts that churches are primarily for teaching and encouraging spiritual growth; small groups are the best answer to developing close relationships. He compares small groups to the “house churches” of the New Testament; a small group of people gathering on a regular basis, building transparent relationships with each other.
“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” Acts 2:46-47 (NIV).
In accordance with the title of his book, Osborne says it’s contrarian to be part of a small group. He says only a small percentage of people who regularly attend church are part of a small group. Sadly, most people only have one or two close friends who know them well enough to be transparent. Moreover, in most cases, our spouse is one of those two! Why is this the case? According to Osborne it’s because small groups are pushed and advertised by churches to provide a benefit we never fully realize. We attend small groups to study the Bible or for some other purpose, when all along we miss the main point of a small group.
Osborne says the greatest value small groups can provide is “accelerators of spiritual growth.” The accelerators are connectedness, peer pressure, and honesty. Over the next few days I want to spend some time reflecting on these three accelerators. They seem to go hand in hand with the purpose of Real Life Connections. Until then…