On Sunday night, Pam and I started a new home Bible study. We had 19 people there, and one person was missing. I believe we are stretching the “small group” definition. But there’s a reason. Last spring, we did a group with a dozen people–a good size. However, many of them had to miss various weeks–they had good reasons–and a couple weeks we were down to just four people. So I decided I’d rather start with a large group, and if everybody showed up, I could just divide them into smaller groups to get the good interaction that a small group needs. So that’s what we’re doing. On Sunday night, I divided us into three different groups for one particular exercise.
We are a “kids free” group. We have a woman in her 70s, and four college-age whipper-snappers. Most of the couples have kids, but they’re grown or at least old enough to leave at home. Two other groups in our church have the young couples with kids. That’s the way I like it. Don’t I sound like a grouch?
In my previous church (before 1998), Pam and I were part of a highly fertile group of young couples. We had a bunch of young’ns running around, and it was hard to get any good study/discussion done. During our snack time, the women were always talking about kid-related things, so Pam wasn’t all that thrilled. (Guys, whether they have kids or not, will talk about sports, so I was okay.)
That group was in a large suburban, rich church. The group included a number of doctors and business owners. They had money, and they had big houses. When Pam and I bought our own home after living in an apartment for four years–a one-story with a basement–I remember feeling at times like it didn’t measure up. It was smaller than everyone else’s home, not as fancy, not in as nice a subdivision. Here was this nice home God had provided for us, and because of my associations at church, I sometimes felt discontent with our new home.
But then we joined a group which helped restart a church in a low-income neighborhood near the city center. Now, we have one of the nicer homes in the church, and I couldn’t imagine “trading up” to a larger house. It would just seem inappropriate, greedy, to do so. I’m totally content and delighted with our home now, but I had to change churches for that to happen. And now I worry that other people in our current not-so-rich church will, upon visiting our home, feel some degree of discontent with their own home. Because I remember how I felt a few years ago.
Peer pressure is alive and well in the 21st century church. Which is why I continually ask myself, “Who sets my standards?”Leave a comment