September 21, 2014 Groups that Transform
One. Three. Twelve. One hundred and twenty.
These numbers are all biblical numbers. They also are the size of the groups that transform Christians into the image of Jesus.
One of the foundational principles that has guided my life and ministry is the importance of participation in groups. From forming a bible study in high school to my current pastoral colleague group I intentionally have joined or formed Christian groups to enable me to more fully live the Christian life. I believe that the key to living an authentic life is participating fully in group life.
Christianity is all about relationships. Father, Jesus and Spirit make one relationship that we call God. God wants to be in relationship with us and in relationship with one another. The whole biblical story is about how God works to bring that about and to overcome all the obstacles to that.
We instinctively know this and we hunger for it. That is one reason that families—in all the messy, crazy, diverse ways that they exist—happen all over the world. To be isolated and alone is the worst human experience. Isolation literally drives us crazy.
The four group sizes provide us the opportunity to grow in distinct ways, but growth is not automatic. In each of the groups there is something that we must do to for transformation to happen.
One. Just you. Fully comfortable in your own skin. Fully accepting your own self with all your gifts and grief's. Fully connecting with God.
(OK. So if God is a part of the group of one that could be technically be called a group of two, but since transformation only happens if God is a part of all these groups I am only counting the humans.)
A group of one is transformational only when you are truly present with yourself and present with God in the present. And this is rare for us. Most of the time we are present with others, for when we are listening to music or watching media or reading we are present with another. Right now you are not alone but you are present with me for I am speaking and you are listening. Practicing presence in the present is transformational.
Three. This size group can range from two to seven, but three is ideal. This is a group that experiences authenticity by being fully vulnerable. No secrets, no shaming, no blaming; only honesty, truth, and love. A group of this size is transformational because it practices the grace of Jesus and thus allowing that grace to heal, strengthen, and bless.
Twelve. Ranging in size from eight to twenty, creativity and instruction flow from this size group. The greater diversity of experience and gifts provides a place for learning to flourish. Transformation happens here only when humility is practiced by all.
One hundred and twenty. Worship flows powerfully out of a group this size as the collective spirit energizes, connects and creates a powerful synergy. Transformation happens here when the three graces of presence, vulnerability, and humility—learned and experience in the other three groups—are present in each individual and the group as a whole.