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Is “church” missing something? Don’t change; just add something else.

Posted by on Jul 6, 2011 in blog links, definition | 13 comments

Is “church” missing something? Don’t change; just add something else.

Andy at “aBowden Blog” has written a very good post called “Small groups and Church.” It’s interesting that he published this yesterday, because I also re-scheduled a link to an old (similar) post that I wrote to go out on Facebook and Twitter recently. That post was called “What’s with this ‘small group’ stuff anyway?

I think Andy did a much better job with his post.

So, what’s the problem with “small groups”? Well, nothing is inherently wrong with “small groups.” There is a problem, however, with differentiating between “small groups” and “church.”

Andy explains the “small group” phenomenon very well in his final paragraph:

I think, then, we can summarize the small group phenomenon in this way. Traditional churches are recognizing that the way church is done is lacking in some VERY important areas. The need for serious change is admitted. Small groups are the attempt to make up for these deficiencies without having to alter anything that happens on Sunday morning. In other words, offering small groups outside of church allows us to continue doing church like we’ve always done it, even though it is lacking in several important areas. We can continue doing things like always, and not have to bother with change. After all, who likes change? Change, much-needed change, can occur in a place we call a small group.

The main point is this: If something we call “church” does not look anything like what we find in Scripture, the answer is NOT to add something else to it. The answer is to change.


13 Comments

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  1. 7-6-2011

    I say drop the huge building and save on mortgage, interest, maintainance, salaries, landscaping, ect and just have small groups.

    But thats just me :)

    Swanny

  2. 7-6-2011

    we have added small groups to our Sunday gatherings. As of now our format is: We sing together for a while, a teacher imparts, then the groups take it from there to encourage, pray, and teach one another. We are not stuck in that format but it appears to work well.

  3. 7-6-2011

    Swanny,

    Why do you think some (perhaps most?) would not do what you suggested?

    Doug,

    Why did y’all add small groups?

    -Alan

  4. 7-6-2011

    Alan – that is a great question. One not easily answered.

    I guess tradition is stronger than we think it is, and the guilt felt if you do dump it all.

    When I first left the system, I felt quilty for not going “to” church. So I can see quilt as a motivating factor to keep the status quo.

    Swanny

  5. 7-6-2011

    Alan,

    As you’ve demonstrated very clearly, we, who claim to be Christian, are very good at reading into Scripture, what is convenient for ourselves.

    Without any criticism of what Doug has written, I always wonder what it means when someone says, as he has, “…it appears to work well.”

    The individual, or group, criteria for what “works well” for the Body of Christ is usually rather nebulous, at least.

  6. 7-6-2011

    we added the groups to allow the people to speak to one another in a smaller less threatening environment. We have found that people will share, pray, and speak in those groups and not in a congregation of 100. All part of teaching the disciples to make disciples

  7. 7-6-2011

    The church we recently left had about 5 levels of small groups. The system was so confusing we never were able to join a group. I think someone must have been reading every book on small groups out there and then just as you say adding a group-type every time he read about another style.

    But small groups aside I think this idea of “adding” is something well worth exploring in all of its manifestations.

  8. 7-6-2011

    Swanny,

    I think you might be right. This is what we’ve always done… so we can’t change that. If something is missing, the problem can’t be with what we’ve been taught and always done.

    Aussie John,

    I agree that “works well” is nebulous. It’s easy to both read our practices and our results into Scripture.

    Doug,

    What do the people get (that the need) in the group of 100 that they don’t get in the small group?

    Cindy,

    Five levels of small groups… wow.

    -Alan

  9. 7-7-2011

    I think this boils down to a perceived “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” syndrome. There is still an ingrained culture of “Sunday Service” that will take time to shed. We have built up so many layers of importance of our traditions and programs on Sunday morning that many people cannot see the forest through the trees. Not saying that all is bad, just stating that the root of our actions stems from the fear of falling backwards with no one there to catch you. We build these structures for tangible comforts, things we can see and touch. The reality is Jesus has been there all along,and though we can’t physically “see” Him, He is there…waiting for his children to fall back into his arms. Reforming our practices to allow the Holy Spirit to move freely without the constraints and structures of our human nature is no easy task, but be encouraged as I believe there is no greater time in history than now for this to start happening.

  10. 7-7-2011

    Alan, I had to read your question several times to make sure I understood it correctly. The short answer is “nothing.” The long answer is: in my opinion the gathering of the 100 is not needed nor helpful in the maturing of the saints. The groups that are facilitated by the mature are sufficient. That’s exactly why I encouraged the groups. That is, to demonstrate how simple and Holy Spirit led a New Testament gathering can be. We utilize the time of the 100 to do a lecture style teaching. It seems to help serve as a springboard for the groups. Further, since we are leading a people from a place of religion and dead works to life by His Spirit, it seemed like a good move. I can write lots more but I hope I have answered your question.

  11. 7-7-2011

    Cory,

    I think that’s a very good observation.

    Doug,

    Actually, I like your answer very much. How do you (and others) communicate to people that the gathering of 100 is not necessary?

    -Alan

  12. 7-7-2011

    YOU ASKED: “How do you (and others) communicate to people that the gathering of 100 is not necessary?”

    We communicate it through deed and action – but we don’t come out and say it say it – not yet. We feel that it’s best to continue to lead the 100 down the path and make slow/gentle adjustments along the way, These people have moved from a rubber-stamp type charismatic church to where they are today, Not even all the elders definitively see that the large gathering is not needful. So we move on – ever pressing toward the mark. in time, we are certain that God will reveal it in them and the next move will be effortless and empowered.

  13. 7-8-2011

    Doug,

    I understand your answer completely. We help people move from where they are to where God wants them… in whatever context that is. Thanks!

    -Alan