How to Gauge the Closeness of a Group

Analyzing conversation patterns can show how much a group trusts one another -- or how far they need to go toward true fellowship.

I walked into the Santa Fe restaurant at 6:35 Wednesday morning looking forward to breakfast with friends. Gordon, Bob, Ron, and John were already seated around the table by the window. They were laughing about how I'd only order orange juice and then eat the bacon and hash browns off Gordon's plate. I grinned and slipped comfortably into my chair thinking, This is a close-knit group.

What makes a group close? It's a crucial question for Christians. Others can afford to see closeness as a luxury-a nice add-on, but secondary to the main task at hand. For the church, however, intimacy isn't an option. Jesus commanded his followers to love one another. Call it what you will-closeness, fellowship, cohesiveness, koinonia-that's what the family of God is about. But it's easier to extol the virtues of fellowship than to clarify what it is.

Justice Potter Stewart once said of pornography, "I don't know how to define it, but I know it when I see it." That vague legal standard hasn't proven particularly ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe to Christianity Today magazine. Subscribers have full digital access to CT Pastors articles.

Homepage Subscription Panel

Read These Next

Faces of the Pastorate: Misael Guzman
Faces of the Pastorate: Misael Guzman
These five pastors' stories point toward a bigger story.
From the Magazine
Hope Is an Expectant Leap
Hope Is an Expectant Leap
Advent reminds us that Christian hope is shaped by what has happened and what’s going to happen again.
Editor's Pick
Your Preaching Is Not God’s Work. You Are God’s Work.
Your Preaching Is Not God’s Work. You Are God’s Work.
How inner transformation shapes outward proclamation.