Do you drive by multiple small groups to get to your small group meeting?

A few weeks back I had the pleasure of breaking bread with a discipleship/small groups pastor in a suburb of Northwest Houston whose personal vision was kingdom-driven. He had just completed a survey of other area churches and mapped all their small group meeting locations, overlaying them on his own church's group locations.

From what he gathered, five different churches in the area had small group members who were driving by 1 to 3 other small groups to get to their own group. His conclusion? "This is crazy! We're all part of the family of God. Why should we drive past CLOSER small groups in our own neighborhoods just to get to the one that belongs to our church family?"

I quickly asked a couple of question that I was sure he'd asked himself: 1) Are the other area churches similar in theology? 2) How does your lead pastor feel about the idea of his members going to a small group belonging to another church?

This staff pastor said that it was his lead pastor's idea and that he didn't mind if his members went to other small groups if a network could be established and all the pastors and the members agreed to participate.

When I discuss this concept with other pastors, they are quick to point out that they might lose members (read leadership and tithes into that concern) to other churches if they did this. Of course, they might gain new tithing lay leaders too, but they weren't as confident in this happening as they were concerned that the loss would happen!

This is some serious out-of-the-box kingdom thinking here. It's certain to kill off a castle protection mentality if it takes hold.

So what say you? Do you think a handful of independent churches in a geographical area could overcome their fears and do this?


Stephen Frazier said...

It would work if anyone would try it. But most churches are more interested in keeping their members than adding new members.

Wynie van Tonder said...

In theory is sounds like a noble idea, but I feel it may be out of touch with reality! Being part of different churches (in the same geographical area) is not "unbiblical" or "evil" or "self-centered". It can be all of that, but not neccesarily, and probably not in most cases. It's usually a matter of approach/belief etc. which causes people to belong to different churches (and even small groups). Personally I'm not quite in agreement with what I experience as the undercurrent in this article which makes it to sound like church leaders might have a hidden agenda of "personal gain" when "holding onto" / "looking after" God's flock entrusted to them... There are MANY more factors which plays into this issue than just the consent a church leader has to give for "his" members to "join" other small groups etc. The reason for having more than one church/small group is similar for having more than one outlet / organisation supplying the church leaders around the world with small-group recourses, and not merging them into one big sole supplier of such resources. The reason is veriaty and diffence in approach and flavour, and even more effectiveness... They rather compliment each other, and it would be wrong to conclude that the owners of such organasations are having self-interest as a hidden agenda / motive for being "seperate"/serving the same churches/groups of churches. :-)

Debbie said...

That will definitely be a leap of faith.I believe it is so worth trying out. Circle Small Group.