When a CG Member Never Shows Up
This one guy never showed up to Community Group gatherings. I didn’t get it because I’d talk to him on Sundays and he was always positive and affirming when talking about Community Group. We even got along pretty well. But why was he always a no-show?
After a while, I started getting annoyed at his absences.
He must not value our Community Group. He said he’d be coming. He’s such a flake. Should I even keep including him on CG emails? He’s not even going to come. I don’t even want to text him anymore. There’s no point. He must not care about Jesus. I don’t care anymore.
I began to push him away instead of continuing to move toward him and love him.
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit intervened and taught me valuable lessons through this process. I want to share a few lessons I learned:
- My identity is in Christ, not in my Community Group’s attendance. At the time, our Community Group was just getting off the ground. We had about 7 people total, so one person’s absence was very pronounced. To be honest, I was often thinking about growing the group and the group’s success. A part of how I measured that was how big our gatherings were and how much the people were bought in. I began to attach my identity to how well I thought my Community Group was going. As you probably know by now, CG attendance is a roller coaster therefore my heart was also. This was not healthy nor Jesus-centered. I realized a part of my annoyance with the guy’s absences was because he was messing with my ‘success’ as a Community Group Leader. Pretty selfish. By God’s grace, I repented, turned back to the gospel, and placed my identity in Christ, again.
- There’s a heart and faith issue behind the behavior. I fell into the trap of getting hung up on behavior. If only he started coming to CG, he’d be in a better place. Maybe, maybe not. Our ongoing temptation will be to give into the notion that a change in behavior can change someone’s heart. It can’t, it’s the other way around. Only the gospel of grace can do that. I was wrongly thinking on how I could get him to CG gatherings. I ought to have been thinking on what is he currently not believing about the gospel and God’s design for discipleship in community. We also tend to be more harsh toward CG members and more gracious to non-Christians, right? We need to keep remembering that our CG members need the gospel just as much as our lost neighbor does. Our CG members are our mission, just as much as our lost neighbor is. This was huge in teaching me to see CG members as God’s children to be graciously loved and shepherded, not a project to be worked on or a cog in the machine. This also helped shape my future conversation with him...
- Run toward the tensions in love. Many of us don’t like confrontation. I hate to break it to you but love requires it. God confronted us through Christ and the cross. I wanted to stop caring and just let it be but at the end of the day, I was called to love this guy and knew I needed to talk to him face-to-face. We met at a coffee shop to talk. I’ve had convos like this go bad so I was nervous. But I also knew that recognizing #1 and #2 above was huge in preparing my heart for this conversation. It released me of any anger, frustration, and judgment. Instead, Christ filled me with love, patience, understanding, gentleness and grace. This shaped my approach, the words I used, my tone, and the focus of my message. I truly believe that if I didn’t deal with #1 and #2, my approach would have been cold, condemning, demanding, and focused on attendance. Instead, I was able to communicate my love for him and affirm him, desire to see him know and experience Christ more through Christian community, and my loving concern as a brother. I was able to speak calmly, gently, and graciously. I was able to ask questions that got to the heart and listened carefully. Jesus and his goodness got more airtime than the issue of CG attendance. He received it well and felt loved and cared for. We talked through some practical next steps tailored to where he was and able to do. Long story short, he became very involved in our CG life. But more importantly, he was believing and loving Jesus more.
Do you have someone in your CG that comes to mind?
Are there personal heart issues you need to talk to God about and deal with?
Is there a CG member you need to talk to face-to-face this month?
May we love as Christ loves.