Here is another key ingredient that will help foster intimacy and none of us like it…
Time and Patience
Intimacy among a group of people doesn’t happen fast. The type of intimacy where life transformation takes place is the product of faithfully giving ourselves to care for each other over an extended period of time. With that being true, we should fight against getting frustrated when what we desire does not happen as quickly as we would like. We also cannot force intimacy. Our part is to be faithful in caring for and encouraging one another in the Lord so that the stage is set for the Holy Spirit to move when He wants to move.
It was after Jesus spent 3 years with His disciples that He said in John 15:14, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” Over the course of three years of spending a significant amount of time together, making themselves known to each other and sharing experiences together, Jesus calls them friends.
In 1 Thess. 2:7-12, Paul says they were gentle and caring like a mother and encouraging like a father…laboring night and day. Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy worked hard in their commitment to seeing transformation in people’s lives. In their commitment they took the time to build deep relationships that looked like those within a family. When we get to the point of treating each other as family, there is deep intimacy.
The point is be patient, be faithful, and model the type of intimacy that you desire to see happen in your group.
Here are a few things that will help move you forward.
• Create opportunities outside of official group time for the group to just hang out.
• Plan times to serve together. The shared experience of serving others together creates a moment where the group must learn to work together and sacrifice together and thus create a tighter bond.
• Model and challenge those in your group to schedule one-on-one time with other members of the group.
• Schedule regular time in your group gatherings for each individual to tell their story in 15 minutes.