Did you catch Perry’s sermon on Sunday? I loved his example of the root systems of the giant redwood trees. The roots are not actually that deep, but they keep the huge trees upright because the roots of the trees interlock under the ground, holding the forest up.
Perry asked us to evaluate how interlocking our “roots” are with other believers of Summitview. And he asked us to consider our next step toward deeper connection. We’ve got an event coming up that will help these next steps; our small group leadership training retreat on September 18-19.
I realized something this week as I considered my own next step. I yearn to change the culture of the world in a radical way for Jesus. I see injustice, oppression, political failure, misinformation, and I want to blast out the truth I see on social media, or wherever. But the truth is, I likely never will have the kind of influence that can post something online and change a culture. That’s not really how it works, with 7.8 billion people on the planet. I’m just simply not going to affect mass change.
And now I’m asking myself – what makes me think I can change culture “out there” when I struggle to establish a flourishing culture in my own life or in my own home?
Perhaps you’ve heard of Dunbar’s number. The number he proposed is 150 – the absolute limit of people each of us can keep track of at any given time. Dunbar’s research showed the average person can only have 5 people in their inner-circle. And maybe about 35 whom we consider to be “good” friends.
Have you ever walked into a Sunday morning service (probably pre-COVID-19) and felt like you didn’t really know anyone or fit? It could be because you’ve never opted into the deeper community of a small group. Or it could be that you’re diluting your influence with your small group by trying to keep track of too many people.
God seems to have wired us with relational limits. Look at how Jesus established his ministry. John, James, and Peter were his inner circle of focus within the 12 disciples. Outside of the 12 there were 70 he spent less time with, and then others, totaling about 120.
We’ve talked and written much in this season about house churches and embracing the small. I for one am grateful for COVID-19 limiting my ability to be with the large group for a season. I think it’s revealed that my grand-yet-abstract idea of influencing and changing the culture “out there” in a large group of people may have caused me to overlook how I can influence the 5 closest people to me.
Those 5 people are where I’ll develop my roots. That’s where I’ll find my primary mission field. My deepest accountability. And my most productive ministry partners. As pastors, we long for everyone in Summitview to have a group of people like this.
We feel that the best way to make that happen is to focus our efforts on small groups this fall. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment. Will you join us in this endeavor? Your first step to a fresh vision for impacting a few deeply is to join our small group leadership training retreat on September 18-19.
Investing a Friday evening and all day Saturday for a Zoom training may feel draining, but you’re going to be glad you took the time. Remember, you don’t have to be a “qualified leader” to join this training retreat. You’ll come away with clarity about the gift God has specifically given you to steward and serve. (1 Peter 4:8-10).
If you focus on the change that needs to happen for the 7.8 billion people on planet Earth, it’ll just overwhelm you. You’ll feel powerless and anxious. But if you set your sights on making a deep impact on a few people, you’ll begin to thrive. And the church will come alive. And when we all do this together we may find that our influence eventually reaches to the ends of the earth.
– Travis (on behalf of the Summitview pastors)
P.S. I’ve heard of some groups planning to host a Zoom watch party for this retreat in their living rooms. What a great idea!