An Instant Small Group[Editor’s Note: Today’s post is an excerpt from the book Open: What Happens When You Get Real, Get Honest, and Get Accountable by Craig Gross.]

My wife and I did once decide to join a small group. It was a few years ago, when we attended a church pastored by my friend Bryan. We lived close to each other, and when the church started implementing and promoting small groups for its members, my wife and I decided to co-lead one with Bryan and his wife. The big upshot was that the church was going to provide a babysitter, and our son and their son were the same age and the best of friends, so it meant they would get to hang out together while we parents were hanging out together.

Not a bad deal, eh?

But it got even better, because when we got together for our first week of our new small group, no one showed up except the four of us, our kids, and the babysitter. Bryan was the lead pastor, and I was the porn pastor, so no one wanted to be in a small group with us. Who would want to join that group? That would be like being in a small group with the principal of your high school and that one weird kid at every school who says crazy things and makes everyone uncomfortable.

We didn’t care, though. We thought we’d scored big time: a babysitter for the kids and no other priorities. We went out to dinner and had a great time.

Most weeks, that was the way it went. We occasionally had someone else show up, but as soon as they discovered who was leading the group, they found another place to be the following week.

So it became this awesome time we could look forward to every Tuesday night, a time when we could pretend to have a small group but instead wound up hanging out as a couple of families. We got to know one another even better than we already did, and our families got very close—and still are to this day. We cared for one another, opened up to one another, and wound up accomplishing more in each of our lives and our overall outlook than we ever would have if we’d actually had a small group with more than just us.

The bummer here is that our families are both so busy that something like this probably would never have happened on our own. We would most likely never have organized regular family get-togethers without the context and pretense of the small group through our church. We would never have said on our own, “Hey, what if we meet for dinner as two families every Tuesday night?” But because we called it a small group, that led us to something, and that something turned out to be great.

And I guess that points out something important, a thread that runs throughout accountability, which is that it’s really all about connection and community. But unlike small groups, where connection and community are enough, accountability also calls for action, for change, for a deeper outcome than you would obtain in your ordinary small group.


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