I did something the other night that I haven’t done in a very long time. I attended a small group in which I wasn’t the leader. I wasn’t necessarily thrilled about signing up for one, but I’m at a new church where I really don’t know anybody at all. I’ll be awful and admit that I don’t really want more friends, I can’t keep up with the ones I have now, but I am tired of sitting alone at church and having nobody to really talk crap to after. My first remedy to this issue was to bring refugees to service with me. It’s still a viable option, especially after my initial small-group experience.
I was apprehensive about participating in a small group because I literally don’t know more than five people at this church. That meant that the cluster of humans would ultimately be a grab bag of characters with whom I may or may not share some sort of commonality. Honestly, I love everyone with the love of Christ, but I don’t always have much more than that for a lot of people*, so I feared landing in the middle of a group of strange Christians. Because they’re everywhere.
Jon Acuff already made a list of people you’ll encounter in a small group, but that was nearly two years ago and my list is entirely different because I’m meaner than he is. So, here’s my take on kinds of Christians you might meet in a small group.
1- The new leader– This person hasn’t even been at the front of a line and they clearly don’t know what to do with a group of spiritually hungry Jesus-people. They can’t stop awkward humans from over-sharing and don’t know how to direct a conversation. They totally believe that Twister is a great way to get to know someone new. Their bottom lip may quiver when put on the spot and other, overbearing people from the group might treat them like a doormat. This person grows with experience unless they freak out and quit.
2- Your new best friend– This guy or gal thinks you’re the best! They can’t believe you have so much in common! You two should get coffee someday soon! How about tomorrow?! Where do you live?! They live over there too! You two should go running sometime! What’s your phone number? What’s your email address? Are you on the Facebook? Are you on the Twitter? You should totally follow them, and they will happily follow you back! They’ll be heartbroken if you decide to leave the group or file a restraining order.
3- The quiet person– This human doesn’t say much, but when they do, everyone in the room squirms because awkward is as contagious as a yawn. One person starts it and next thing you know, there isn’t a person around who isn’t suffering. In my experience, these people avoid eye-contact, but don’t mind leaning over your shoulder and breathing from their mouth directly into your left ear.
4- The person who was tricked into showing up– You probably won’t meet more than one of these people every couple of months and you won’t see them more than once. They expected beer, hot girls or guys or didn’t know they were actually invited to a church event where they were supposed to share with other people. They won’t admit to being angry that they’re in a small group, but they won’t really participate in a meaningful way, either.
5-The person who brought beer– You’re actually all grateful for a drink, but at the same time, don’t want to be part of that small group (Every church has one). The new leader can’t say anything, the person who was tricked is always the first to crack one open and you need one because you’re on edge since you’re surrounded by the weirdest strangers ever.
6- The small-group ho– That sounds worse than I mean it to. This person attends a different group every night of the week, leaving the rest of the crowd wondering, “How do they manage to get anything else done?” The answer is, they’re probably unemployed, or they have a disturbingly filthy house. Either way, this person is nice enough, right?
My small group may have also contained a real-life cougar and someone as old as Moses. Honestly, it felt like a poorly-casted sitcom. That said, Jesus loves all the people I got to hang out with more than I ever have to*, which is convenient, because I don’t really want to go back, but I just may out of guilt.