As I consider the communities that make up the Summit Fellowships, I realize that many of the people are what might best be called “nesters.” They naturally gravitate towards a community and, sometimes a leader. They are the comfortable “center” of the community. Frankly, they just don’t think in terms of being outward bound.
This is good. A community must have a center, a soft place for people to land, grow and be nurtured; a place for love to be.
Nevertheless, for groups of people to advance the kingdom, there have to be outward bound people among them, what Vernard Eller calls, expediti. Moreover the group has to recognize that various gifting are necessary for the expansion of the church.
Kinds of Groups
There is a progression that small groups will probably go through.
It seems to me that the first step in a growth pattern is fellowship, that is Koinonia. It is been said that Christian Life moves from relationship, through relationship, and to relationship. A first step of developing relationship, and by that we mean friendship, is to have a group give themselves permission to become friends. That, of course, isn’t enough. Tarrying too long as a fellowship group results in the group becoming a club. Kingdom communities ought not be clubs, they ought to be purposeful and useful.
That brings a group to a second step. Often that second step is to become a discipleship group, developing wisdom and knowledge in the things of God, and learning to apply those things by working together toward a kingdom goal.
Sometimes, there is a level of knowledge and maturity in a group even as they are growing in their fellowship and love for one another. In that case, a group might take a step from simple fellowship to mission and ministry. The discipleship, spiritual formation stage, may not be necessary. Spiritual formation may happen as the group is challenged in their missional work. Communitas is a wonderful outcome when people work, and reach out together.