GroupLife Is Different at Crowd’s Edge

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Some things are hard to describe…but you know it when you see it.  Or taste it. When you sense it…or don’t sense it.  If you’ve ever taken a drink from a perfectly calibrated soft drink dispenser you know it when it hits your tongue.  You actually know it when you put the cup to your lips…because the fizz is already tickling your nose.  On the other hand, if you’ve ever taken a drink from a bottle of coke that has lost its fizz…you also know what I’m talking about.

Not long after I left 10 year old Fellowship of The Woodlands (now Woodlands Church) and arrived at a landmark Southern California church…I began to sense that their carbonation was gone.  It felt flat, but I had trouble describing it until I stumbled across the metaphor.  I went out and bought two 2 liters, uncapped one and put both of them on the edge of my desk…where they sat for about a year.  “What’s up with the coke bottles?” launched many discussions about carbonation and churches.

I think the same thing is true in many small groups and small group systems.  You know a good group when you’re in one.  You can almost taste it.  It’s like it’s carbonated.  And then there are times when it really is pretty flat.  No zip.  Not the business.

Want in on the bubbles?  You might need to step out of the comfort of  the core and try grouplife at the edge of the crowd.  At Crowd’s Edge it can be about real change.  At Crowd’s Edge is can be about discovering real truth.  At Crowd’s Edge it can be about real life, with eternity in the balance.

While telling the story of two coke bottles I often described castaways on an island where a pallet of coke syrup washed up.  They knew what it was.  They drank it.  It was sweet.  It was tasty.  It was a change from their usual  water.  But it wasn’t the real thing.  Not really.  And then one day a pallet of the real thing washed up.  I wondered if they’d even like it.  It had the familiar essence of the syrup, but it was different.  It had the bite of carbonation.  It was dangerous by comparison.

And I wondered if you could get so used to just the syrup that you’d reject the real thing.  I wondered if people could be so accustomed to the sweetness of the syrup that they’d reject the bite of the real the thing.

Is your group the real thing?  Or has the co2 left the building?  What about your small group system?  Are you working with the whole formula?  Or have you gotten used to the syrup?

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  1. Kathy Harter on November 17, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Working the edge sounds very exciting. I am interested in the practical approach you take to capture these folks. How do you recruit? How do you train? How do you monitor? Can you point me in the direction of more specifics on how to pull this off? Thanks!

  2. Mark Howell on November 17, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Great questions Kathy! Can you see how using the host strategy with a church-wide campaign and the right study would make a lot of ministry right at the edges of your congregation more likely? I’ve written about this when I’ve talked about studies like Love at Last Sight and One Month to Live. The combination of recruiting group hosts from outside the “usual suspects” and a study from the easy end of the Easy/Hard Continuum makes a crowd to core strategy work.

    These are important questions. Watch my upcoming posts for a more complete answer.

  3. Anson R Nash Jr on November 17, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Now you’ve got me on the edge of my seat! Thanks for asking Kathy. I can’t wait for the next installment.

  4. Mark Howell on November 17, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Glad to hear you’re interested Anson. Stay tuned. I’ll have more specifics later.