Well-meaning church leaders have long been trying to force a high level of familiarity within groups, even though the environment is just not conducive to it. Understanding that there are four primary spaces where we grow spiritually can help stop this tendency. Here is a quick overview of the four spaces of spiritual growth.
1. Public Space
Public space is defined as a group of over twenty people, where there is usually about twelve feet between each person. Even when people are closer than twelve feet from each other, there is little to no personal interaction. People don’t know the names of those around them. In a learning environment, which is a common public space, there is usually a teacher or lecturer who serves as the focal point and communicates to the group as a whole. Examples of public space include church, the mall, a concert, or a sporting event.
2. Social Space
A social space consists of a gathering of anywhere from five to twenty people. The people in this group are usually four to twenty feet from one another. Everyone in a social space will know your name, though they won’t know your personal business. In this type of space, you don’t need a lecturer or teacher, but you do need a leader or facilitator if you want to focus the attention of the group in one direction or encourage a common group discussion. A social space is the most conducive environment for getting to know new people. Examples of social space include the break room at work or school, a fun event at church, a party, or just hanging out with friends somewhere.A social space is the most conducive environment for getting to know new people. Click To Tweet
3. Personal Space
Two to five people are usually present in a personal space. The space between them is anywhere from eighteen inches to four feet. Everyone in your personal space will know more than just your name; they will know details about your life. Our personal spaces are usually filled with friends and peers. No leader, facilitator, or teacher is necessary. Personal space is private space. Outsiders are not welcome. Examples of personal space include best friends on a park bench, road trips, small coffee tables, or anywhere there are personal conversations that you woudn’t want just anyone to hear.
4. Intimate Space
In an intimate space there are only two people present. The space between the two individuals is less than eighteen inches. People in your intimate space know more than your business; they know your secrets. They know you better than anyone else in the world. Where personal space involves good friends, intimate space involves someone you consider family. Examples of intimate space include romantic destinations, private dinners, or any space geared toward personal communiction.
– Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas, with Jennifer Dykes Henson
The above excerpt is from pgs. 40-42 of Activate: An Entirely New Approach to Small Groups.
Drawing from the startling success of small groups at The Journey Church, Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas debunk the myths, set the record straight, and show how church leaders can implement a healthy small group ministry that gets the maximum number of people involved and solves many of the important problems facing churches of all sizes. These practical strategies will produce life-changing results.
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