Jesus said no matter who you are, stumbling blocks are sure to come your way (Luke 17:1, Mt. 18:7).
Stumbling blocks are those moral, ethical & spiritual issues that have the potential to blindside us & derail our faith and relationships. If we saw them coming & realized the damage they do – we’d avoid them. That’s why they’re so dangerous; we stumble because we don’t see them coming and then many of us don’t have the support we need to get back on track.
I’ve had 3 close friends who experienced major moral stumbling blocks in ministry. Two of them had affairs that led to adultery and the dissolution of their family. They were living thousands of miles away from me when this happened, and as far as I know – neither of them were in a small group at the time. I didn’t know about one of them until it was too late; the other I tried to talk to on the phone, but he didn’t really want to talk.
The 3rd friend was in a small group with me and several other friends. When we discovered he was having an emotional affair (that had not led at that point to a physical affair) we were able to confront him and walk through the issues with him. He reconciled with his wife & family and the last I heard they were still doing well.
I’m not trying to make this sound simplistic; it isn’t. But while it isn’t always the case, one difference in these scenarios is one of these men was in a small group of men who were developing authentic community & relationships. We were committed to walking through the issues with him, and had an ongoing connection with him so we were able to encourage him to make wise choices. When he faced a stumbling block that Jesus said is inevitable in our lives, we were able to become stepping stones to help save his marriage & family. This was made possible because we chose to do life together and over the long haul stayed connected long enough to develop genuine community.
Bottom line: LIFE IS BETTER CONNECTED