Like any entrepreneurial enterprise, church planting comes with a plethora of possibilities that vie for priority attention. To simplify and to focus our efforts we have chosen to concentrate on Sundays, Small Groups, and City. Recently, we had the opportunity to move small group ministry forward in a significant way: six couples and a single spent a weekend together at Lake Anna to get training in small group dynamics and leadership.
Just getting 13 busy adults together for a weekend away felt like a minor miracle. But so glad we made the effort! Over the course of the weekend, we had some hysterical laughs, some vulnerable tears, and some good discussions (maybe arguments?). It was a little like family, which is kind of what we hope our small group ministry will feel like for the many who commit to it in the days to come.
We call our small group ministry “Community Groups” because we believe God has called his church to be a spiritual community within the local community. God is the author of community, having modeled it in His Triune being; before the world ever existed, God existed in perfect community as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Mankind, being made in His image reflects the innate longing for community. However, sin has horribly and at times subtlety corrupted community. Has there ever been a greater need for community, for friendship, for meaningful personal relationship, than in our day?
It is through the gospel that God reveals and restores spiritual community. The church has been given a ministry of reconciliation, both with God and with one another. Therefore, for Cross Community, the purpose of our small group ministry is for the members to share with one another and to support one another (in both practical as well as heart matters). Furthermore, it is to encourage one another to grow in Christ-like maturity and to mission to the broader community, that others might know Christ.
We fully recognize this is not easily accomplished. In fact, my personal observation is that despite the gospel power and gospel call to community, very few churches do very well at building community. I think one of the reasons for this is that so many churches today attract people into the church with a message that builds expectation that the church is here to serve their needs. We have built consumeristic churches that cater to felt needs. You need child care? We have an awesome children’s ministry where you can get free baby sitting every Sunday! You want friends and fun activities? We offer that! You like great music and good coffee? You can expect that at Consumer Community Church!
Here’s the thing: we reap what we sow. And if we are sowing to that kind of self-centered spirituality, it is no wonder that small group ministry will suffer. At the end of the day, real relationship and community can only be accomplished through mutual receiving and giving. It is really only robustly satisfied through sacrificial giving, which entails a form of suffering that a me-centered society will not naturally appreciate.
This is why the gospel must be front and center in small group ministry. The gospel is the model and the power for relationship and community. Here, God demonstrates what love looks like in that he first gave His life for sinners in order that we might have fellowship with Him.
We are committed to the priority of building community and to putting our best foot forward in this effort. For sure this is going to require a clear vision for our small group ministry, a lot of hard work, and that there be the expectation that every member is a minister.
We hope to officially launch our small group ministry in early 2016. If you have any questions or if this sounds like something you want to invest in, be sure to contact me, or just give us a visit one of these Sundays
at 4:00 PM (as of September, 2016 our service is at 11:00 am) for our regular service.