Tag Archives: church planting

Stay Loose, Stay Organic

Small group churches–Kingdom communities–should adopt the organic paradigm. They should, at the beginning, understand that they do not intend–indeed it is not an option–to shift to an organizational paradigm or corporate structure.

If they understand at the beginning that it is not an option, then they have to be thinking in terms of multiplication, not addition. They need to understand that more distant relationships are a natural outcome as numbers increase. Even if you grow larger as a congregation, the increase of numbers naturally creates distance because people tend to have only enough margin to invest in a limited number of people. If a group is growing, in the organic model they begin to think about multiplication.

There is resistance to that because it inserts distance in the relationships. People need to understand, even convinced, that that is going to happen anyway. As numbers increase groups or clusters of people will form. The relationships within those subgroups will deepen and other relationships will become more distant. This result doesn’t reflect rejection or animosity, it is simply a function of growing larger.

This is why I advocate for a network. In a large Church people mix and mingle in distant relationship, but typically there are clusters, small groups, that reflect the closeness that is so important to those in a house church. If we are voluntarily interdependent, we make a place for those clusters to connect as they would naturally in a larger church that has a campout, or a Sunday picnic, or an all-church seminar. The analogous gatherings in the organic Network are called Vines, that is “Voluntary Intra-Network Events.”

14] Interview: Jonny & Sarah Griffiths

An interview with Jonny and Sarah who envision living and working among a network of simple churches in the UK. They share some of the joys and challenges of moving a young family to a new country. Mentioned in this episode:

Kinds of Summit Fellowships

summiteer6Summit Fellowships may take different forms. Generally, they will fall into one of these four types. Note, however, that fellowships often fit into more than one of these categories during its life. For example, it would not be uncommon for a group to start as a friendship group before developing the characteristics of one of the others. Here is a brief description of some styles of simple church.

Friendship Summit: Primarily a group of friends who gather for the purpose of fellowship, conversation and camaraderie based upon the shared commitment to Christ. Many groups may go through a “friend summit” period, but it seems wise for the group to generate an “outward bound” attitude at some point to avoid becoming a club.

Precept Summit: As the name suggests, this kind of fellowship will have as its main purpose the spiritual and character development of the members. This group will recognize their need to build a firm foundation for their faith and practice. Such fellowships will focus on the Bible and study skills; devotional life; and practical application of faith principles. I would recommend,

  • Basic Bible study, such as the ALPHA Course, Blackaby’s Experiencing God or Gordon Fee’s How to Read Your Bible for All It’s Worth. There are numerous online tools for becoming familiar with scripture as well. Many of these would be useful resources.
  • Sonship Study: These interactive materials have been used to help believers gain a clearer understanding of what it means to be children of God. Sonship Studies have resulted in the planting of small group churches both in the United States and internationally. These studies are not curriculum driven but are facilitated discussions based on relationship.

Missional Fellowship: These fellowships understand their purpose to include reaching into the community with practical expressions of the love of Christ. They tend to be outward in their thinking. A missional fellowship may form around a central theme or interest that is evident in the community, such as music, theater or other defining characteristic. They also may choose to be part of the support network of existing mission organizations. Such groups are often evangelistic in their focus.

Parish/Village Fellowship: Similar to a Missional Fellowship except focusing on a geographical community, such as a neighborhood or district. A village fellowship is typically comprised of members who live in close proximity to one another so they can be readily available as a group to serve their parish and its people.