Wednesday, January 9

Towards Community...

As a pastor and church planter, I'm often thinking about strategy and systems... helping people take next steps in their faith... moving people down the line towards spiritual maturity. And one of my passions in ministry is helping people to experience, and live out, community. I've led small groups, trained small group leaders/coaches, been a Small Groups Director, a Pastor of Fellowship... even a "Relational Ministries" Director! I've launched small groups ministries, done Small Groups seminars... I've been enmeshed in this type of ministry for some time now. But times change... methods change... people change... and I'm always trying to think through the best way in our context for people to experience community.

My answer to this question of how we move people into community has always been "small groups... that's the key!" Well, I understand now that it is a key... not necessarily the key. But still the question remains, which key works for us? Is community best achieved by forcing people into a particular mold?

Another thing I struggle with is how much does intimacy play a part in experiencing community? (usually, men hate the "i" word) How do we define intimacy... and when is it clear that we've achieved it? In alot of models, intimacy is the goal of community. If intimacy hasn't been achieved, then neither has community. But is this true?

I just started reading through the book Organic Community by Joseph Myers, and it's really challenging my thoughts on how we achieve community in our churches. Last night, I read a paragraph that hit me square in the gut... it really made alot of sense. Don't know if it will hit the lot of you in the same way, but I'd love to get your thoughts... here goes:

"Perhaps we've successfully forced everyone into some form of a small group. This in itself might be okay if we recognize that many kinds of groupings can serve the same role as 'small groups.' Instead, the pressure continues when small group leaders are told that if intimate connections are not taking place within their groups, their groups are failures. We need to bear in mind that the most accurate word to describe the process of forcing intimate connection is rape."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Having led quite a few small groups, intimacy would be great be not always realistic. I would say that a good small group may create unity. Not meaning that we all agree but someone said,"Unity is diversity in harmony."
Bernard G.