My husband and I were once excluded from a small group formed in our church with the explanation that “This is a personal needs group.” The organizer went on to explain that she did not feel an affinity for me and that her husband did not like my husband and so we were not included.
To make matters worse, ours is a small church with, at that time, fewer than a half dozen couples in their early 30's. My husband and I were in the correct age group for the newly formed group, and so when I was not contacted I assumed it was an oversight. I can feel the sting of the rejection to this day.
Under the banner of outreach ministry, we must not make satisfaction of our own needs our priority. In Christ, we are called to find our heart's satisfaction in Him, and then to turn and extend God's love and acceptance to others. It is not for us to judge one another based on visible measures of their need or, worse, on their potential to fill our own emotional or spiritual needs.
We are to find all our fresh springs in Christ and to consider the needs of others ahead of our own. In Christ all are invited.
Small group ministry can be a powerful tool to express Christ's love on a personal level, but we must proceed with prayerful caution. We are to extend the warmth of God’s love and acceptance to others regardless of whether our own needs seem likely to be met in the relationship.
The impetus for every ministry of the church needs to be the all-inclusive invitation Christ issues when He says, "Come unto Me."