I have an interesting problem. My congregation is thriving. They have formed a thriving community of believers. They have great leaders, and willing workers. They are truly involved in worship. They obviously care deeply both for each other, and for all of God's world. You might well ask why that is a problem. It is because for me, dealing with a congregation that is not facing a downward slide is a very new experience. And I need to advise them not on how to start transformation for the beginning but instead how to continue to thrive.
One of their keys to future success will be the formation of small groups. A church based small group usually consists of twelve members or less. The members gather around a passion they all hold in common. They use that passion to reach out in mission to the local community. At the same time they devote time together to prayer and study.
Small groups accomplish something more than those stated purposes. They provide a close knit community; a place where members can discuss their thoughts, dreams, and problems with the security that what they say will not be repeated beyond the bounds of the group. The sense of community they provide is quite important in this age where even in small cities and the country we do not always know our neighbors. In a congregation, like this one, who draws members from a wide area, small groups also provide a greater sense of community within the congregation as a whole.
Let me give you an example of a small group. A group of people might have a common love of working on cars. They find a place where they can meet. Remember, small groups do not have to meet in the church building. After the group finds a meeting place they purchase old cars, fix them up, and give them to people who cannot afford a car and desperately need one. Funding for the cars, and parts, might come from the members themselves, or the congregation might fund it as a local mission outreach. Besides the time spent working, the members of the group spend time sharing their lives with each other, studying some aspect of their faith, and praying together.
Sound simple? It is simple. It simply takes people's passions and turns them into the work of Christ's church.
Please, join in. What paths do you suggest for a congregation who is looking to continue to thrive?