One of the most important current grouplife trends is the missional community. I began noticing blog posts and tweets about Gateway Church’s Crowded House strategy recently and wondered what that was about and if it was a version of missional community. I asked Kirby Holmes for the scoop and here’s what he had to say:
What’s your role at Gateway?
I am the Point Leader for Small Groups and the Geography Team Leader for Gateway Church’s McNeil Campus in Austin, TX. My role is to catalyze people into community where growth and service happen in hyper-local Networks throughout this part of Austin.
I’ve been seeing Eric Bryant’s references to Crowded House and I’m wondering what it’s about?
A Crowded House is one event that happens in a Network. First, you have to understand a Network. A Network (Short Video of: What is a Network?) is a group of 30-70 people who are living out being the church to one another and the world around them. They are hyper-local because they exist in neighborhoods or nooks of affinity where people of like-kind hang out.
A Network is a place to “do church where you do life.” There are five different events or gatherings that are happening within a Network each month. They are: a Crowded House, Small Groups, Serving Events, Connection Events and Spiritual Running Partners. A Network that is fully functioning is really living out much of what it means to be the church.
The Crowded House is a once month event in someone’s home that brings the whole Network together. Hence the name! It is a time to eat a meal, celebrate stories of personal growth and service while discussing the Scriptures as a spiritual community. It is an inclusive community in that anyone is welcome to attend.
You’ve had active grouplife at Gateway from the very beginning. How is Crowded House different?
We have always said that community expressed through relationships in Small Groups (typically 5 to 15 people) and Spiritual Running Partners (a group of 2 to 4 people who spiritually train together to fully follow Christ) are vital to being the church. We are a relational church with one another and with the people in our city that are un-churched or far from God. We are committed to helping un-churched people explore Jesus even in their doubt and skepticism.
Amazingly God has used our church to help 1,000’s of people find or rediscover faith in Christ. We have grown to weekly Sunday services as high as 4,500. This growth has caused challenges for connections and the relational emphasis at Gateway. Our church size of 1,000+ on Sunday mornings can be intimidating. The Crowded House is a group size that allows people to check out a Network and start making relational connections. It is a place to meet some people before taking a next step, like a Small Group, or serving others through a cause.
In order to make this whole Network and Crowded House conversation make sense, check out this video about how God used a Network to impact this life…tattoos, piercings and all!