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?