The Value of a Diverse Small Group

 

I have a diverse group of folks in my small group.  And by diverse I mean:

  • single
  • dating
  • married
  • divorced
  • in college
  • doctorate degree(s)
  • masters degree
  • jobless
  • fitness nuts
  • fitness haters
  • no church background
  • legalistic church background
  • mature in their faith
  • not a follower of Christ yet
  • young
  • old
  • stay-at-home moms
  • working moms
  • past addiction issues
  • spouses of church staff
  • poor
  • wealthy
  • business-savvy
  • relationally gifted
  • extroverted
  • introverted
  • white
  • black
  • East Coasters
  • West Coasters
  • well-connected
  • struggling to know anybody in the community
  • parents
  • childless

I absolutely love my small group and the diversity of life that we represent.  I’m able to learn from people who are further along in life than me…and from those who are a few stages behind me.  I benefit from the life experiences of folks on both ends of the spectrum.

It’s not a right/wrong thing if you don’t have a “diverse” group.  Maybe your group is comprised of all married couples.  Or everybody who likes to ride bikes.  Or parents of young children.  Or older people.  Or people who are divorced.  Or widowed.  Or single.  Or mature in their faith.

Maybe you do life together with those who are similar to you.  They look like you.  They are good at “adulating” like you.  They talk like you.  They live like you.  They think like you.  They go to the same soccer tournaments as you.

Maybe that’s your small group experience. Mine is different, and I love it. Read this:

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. (Titus 2:3-8)

Though we may be drawn to people like us, we need influence from people not like us.  The early church recognized this.  They saw the need for older women’s influence on younger women.  Older women have worked through the issues that younger women are drowning in.  And if older women don’t step up to the plate and begin investing in younger women, the younger will drown.  We young men need to see older men living a godly life.  We need to hear sound teaching.  We need to be shown how a God-fearing man should honor his wife.  And raise his children.  And be self-controlled in the whole process.

The problem with a lack of diversity in our small groups is that we tend to be blind to our own shortfalls. And our issues spiral us downward because everyone has the same ones. If everyone struggles with _____, because that’s the season of life they’re in, it’s easy to wallow in the pit together, wondering if we’ll ever get out. But diversity says, “You can make it through this. See? I did. God brought me through.”

If your small group is comprised only of people like you, maybe it’s time to open it up to a little diversity.