First, North Point’s Access Group strategy isn’t designed to provide additional destinations. Instead, every Access Group is offered as a step between the auditorium and a small group (or, as North Point would say, between the living room and the kitchen). This is an important distinction but might not be an obvious one. During the Q & A segment at a breakout I attended showcasing The Seven Questions That Rattle in the Mind of Most Men (a North Point Access Group), it was clear that several men had misunderstood the strategy and saw Seven Questions as an alternative to Men’s Fraternity (really more of a destination). Instead, Seven Questions is a 7 week experience designed to be an easier next step that moves men in the direction of community.
Second, North Point’s Access Group strategy is not a version of the semester strategy. While many churches have adopted a version of the semester strategy and offer two or three semesters a year, allowing members to select the topic they’ll study and the group they’ll join…that’s not what Access is designed to offer. The semester strategy offers a kind of destination. It isn’t designed as a step in the direction of ongoing community. While the semester does end (and offers a theoretical easy off-ramp in the search for a better fit), many members simply join the same group the next semester. On the other hand, Access Groups are designed purely as next steps that lead to the real destination.
Third, North Point’s Access Group strategy is not a shorter alternative to their community group strategy. A community group’s 12 to 18 month commitment is designed to foster intentional relationships that help adults grow in their relationship with Jesus. Seen as one of the five faith catalysts that God uses to grow our faith, there is no real alternative to building long term relationships with other believers seeking to grow in their faith.
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