Note: While this article was written after attending re:group (North Point Ministries small group ministry conference) in 2016, it is getting MORE relevant everywhere and every day.
I might be sharing key insights from re:group 16 for days. So good! I wish you had been there!
One of the two or three most powerful takeaways I came away with is a very good way of thinking about the importance of making community available for everyone.
To set the stage, here is the introductory paragraph in the session notes for Community for Everyone:
"If we want everyone to experience life-changing community, we need to make space in groups for people with a variety of lifestyles and theological beliefs. How do we create avenues for opportunities for dating couples living together? How do we help LGBT people experience a growing relationship with Jesus through community? In this breakout, we'll explore what we're learning as we try to move a diverse population from rows into circles."
Think with me for a moment.
Like the North Point Ministries churches, our small group strategy is designed to form and launch groups for married couples, men (married and unmarried) and women (married and unmarried). As a result, it is already more and more common for us to field questions from people who are trying to figure out if they fit or where they fit.
Are you answering those questions too?
Let me tell you, if you're not yet wrestling with questions about "how can I/we participate, it is probably only a matter of time (a very brief time).
Again, I love the thinking behind North Point's philosophy and strategy. Consider these three statements:
"Our mission as a church is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ."
Check. That's not how we say it but it is what we say. And you are probably the same.
"Our vision is to create churches that unchurched people want to attend."
Check. I resonate with that vision and you probably do too.
Stop and think for one moment, though, before we continue.
Follow the thinking right here:
If you want unchurched people to attend and are praying that unchurched people attend and God answers your prayer and unchurched people do attend...doesn't it stand to reason that these same unchurched people will arrive with lifestyles and habits (and much more) that are consistent with and shaped by the culture?
How are you doing? Still with me?
Okay, so here's the third statement:
"We believe for people to grow spiritually, they must be connected relationally."
Check. I'm with you. We are with you.
And now, what must we do to make community available for everyone?
In our case, I'm certain we can't easily fit everyone into our three categories. At least, not without a lot of forcing men and women to fit into the categories that we already have.
What do we need to do? What will we do?
We're already on it. Stay tuned.
If you missed yesterday's post, here it is: 18 Great Lines from Andy Stanley (re:group Conference Day One).
What do you think? Want to argue? Have a question? You can click here to jump into the conversation.
Image by Thomas Hawk