- Dave Ramsey, author of “The Total Money Makeover,” writes, “Small groups for support and encouragement are the most powerful form of behavior modification known.” He recommends that if you want to change your money habits, get involved in a group that is doing the same. That’s why he created Financial Peace University, a class our church offers periodically to help us be better stewards of our money and experience more financial freedom.
- Malcolm Gladwell, author of “The Tipping Point,” writes about John Wesley, “Wesley realized that if you wanted to bring about a fundamental change in people's belief and behavior, a change that would persist and serve as an example to others, you needed to create a community around them, where those new beliefs could be practiced and expressed and nurtured.” Wesley was one of the founders of the Methodist movement, and as people became followers of Jesus by the tens of thousands, he organized them into groups of about a dozen or so that met weekly.
- Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit,” writes about the power of groups in forming habits. He concludes that the best predictor of your life is your peer group – it’s bigger than your personal resolve. Is it no wonder that Weight Watchers, consistently ranked as one of the more effective weight loss programs, uses the power of groups to form new eating habits? A 2006 British Medical Journey study found that programs like Weight Watchers that offer group meetings lead to higher compliance than a do-it-yourself diet. It’s also why addiction recovery happens in the context of groups.
- The most surprising research came in my email just a few months ago, and it deals with pre-marital counseling. Several of our pastors have been trained in to use a wonderful pre-marital counseling program called PREPARE-ENRICH. PREPARE-ENRICH recently introduced a group program, and they compared the effectiveness of engaged couples going through 6 weeks of pre-marital counseling with a counselor (individual couple experience) to engaged couples going through a 1-day pre-marital counseling workshop with other couples (a group experience). Their findings? “Groups are as effective, and sometimes more effective, than individual feedback.” They go on to say, “Many…couples are further distressed by the thought that their problems are unique to them. ‘Universality’ and ‘Instillation of Hope’ are two therapeutic factors that present themselves easily in a group setting. Learning that other couples have similar struggles provides relief and often further exploration and sharing of feelings and experiences. Group sharing is cathartic and group acceptance, healing.”
These findings beg two questions:
1. What kind of relationship do you want to have with God?
2. What group of people do you need to belong to in order to facilitate this?
This is why we are so committed to making sure all of us have an opportunity to belong to some type of group in our church, whether it be a Connection Group, support group, ministry group, etc. We become who we are surrounded by.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” It makes sense, doesn’t it?