With whom are you doing life? What I mean is, with whom do you spend time hanging out and talking about the deepest things of life? Whom do you sharpen, and who sharpens you?
I’m sold on small groups. There are very few ways to create an atmosphere conducive to building strong relationships than studying the Bible in the living room of a friend. I also agree with Rick Howerton about the need to consider a more organic pathway to healthy groups.
Some churches raise the bar when it comes to recruiting small group leaders. You need to be a member for X amount of time, well versed in the church’s doctrinal statement, agree to a lifestyle covenant, etc. The more qualified the leader, the stronger the group will be… or so goes conventional wisdom. But is that really true?
Traditional small group ministry might seem like a leap ahead of the lecture-based classroom in terms of relationship-building, but the rate of change in our surrounding culture still far outpaces the rate of change within the church. Small group ministry is changing. Again. And Rick Howerton, one of the few guys I read religiously concerning group life has written an excellent guide for embracing this change in his new book, A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic.
We haven’t officially launched our small group ministry at Grace Hills yet. I’ve done plenty of reading, researching, and consulting the minds of some of the nation’s foremost small groups thinkers.
There are, in every industry, certain books that serve as cornerstones – manuals of the trade, if you will. If you want to fix a car, you buy a Chilton’s Guide. If you’re working in any psychology-related field, you need a DSM-IV manual. And if you’re in small group ministry, ministry leadership, or you simply want your own small group to thrive, you need to have the new industry standard manual, Small Groups with Purpose: How to Create Healthy Communities.
I once had a tradition of telling you whom you should know – leaders from whom I’m learning – and I’m reviving that practice today by recommending Mark Howell. Mark is one of our Pastors.com community contributors and I asked him to become one on the basis of his practical and helpful insights, plus a good recommendation from a few of our Small Groups Pastors at Saddleback.
Saddleback Church is making huge leaps forward when it comes to interacting with people across a more social web. Johnny Baker recently became Pastor of the Online Campus, which is finally recognized as an official campus rather than simply an internet-based broadcasting tool. And now, Saddleback is rolling out online small groups.
Huntington Beach represents authentic southern California beach culture. You’ve got bodybuilders working out on the sand, skateboards and bikes covering the boardwalk, and street performers driving nails up their noses for tip money. My family and I visited there yesterday with the Krumm’s, friends of ours here in Orange County. It was a fascinating taste of local culture for us and in the midst of that experience, I observed some of the markings of genuine community.