Groups Are Three Kinds of Messy


If you’ve been in a group before, your probably aware that they can often create relational tension. They can be a little messy. The intentional community that groups create is an important ingredient for group members experiencing life-change. Groups support, challenge, and encourage members to apply the truth they are learning. And application leads to transformation. But, that type of intentionality—the encouragement and challenge groups create—can also lead to tension for its group members.

Heather Zempel, author of Community is Messy, shares that there are really three kinds of messes in a group: Sin Mess, Relational Mess, and Life Mess.

Sin mess is when people in the group do something outside of God’s will. Relational mess is when there are just simply differences of personality or perspective between group members. And life mess is when people’s lives blow up because we live in a fallen world and sometimes things don’t go according to our plans.

These messes can be difficult for group leaders to navigate. That is why it is important to understand what type of mess you are dealing with and address it appropriately. Often, when we experience a relational mess with someone in our group, we think it is a sin issue in that person—“there must be something wrong with them if they don’t see things my way.” But misdiagnosing a mess can lead to even more tension.

For more on how to identify the mess you might be facing and to uncover the best way to deal with mess in your group, check out our free training by Heather Zempel called “Community is Messy.”


Community is messy
Leader Training

Messes in groups aren’t the exception; they’re the rule. That’s because people are messy.