This week at church we're going to see how important words are. So from time to time I'll use this part of the weekly email to explain why our language at church might be a bit different to other churches around us/we've come from.
There are heaps of different names for small group ministries within different churches. Growth Groups, Connect (Kinect) groups, Bible study groups, Cell groups, Fellowship groups. Why go with Community Groups?
The main reason is that the name reveals the purpose.
We saw a hazard in calling our small groups variants on “Bible studies”. The hazard we want to avoid is communicating that the “task” is finished when the passage is studied. Our Community Groups are never less than Bible studies; meeting God in the scriptures unites us to one another as it unites us to him (Paul insists in 2 Tim 3:16 that the Bible is God breathed, but then goes on to list how it helps us in community). But they are certainly more than Bible studies.
- They are data nodes of Kingdom Centred prayer.
- They are first aid stations for pastoral care.
- They are basecamps for discipleship
- They are refineries where we expectantly wait for God to transform us
Furthermore, the word “study” has an unintended repercussion. Those who have, in the past, found formal education difficult or unpleasant can feel excluded by “study” ministries. Our hope is, ultimately, to redeem theological study for these people so that they have a rehabilitated confidence in their ability to meet Jesus in the Bible and learn and grow as disciples (after all, the word disciple carries the concept of “student” in it.) But that’s a process that takes time, and one that we can only start if they don’t self-exclude from the beginning.
Hope that helps. If there are other things around Renew that catch your ear as odd, let me know. If they're intentionally odd I'll have a crack at explaining it. If they're unintentionally odd, we can deal with it.
grace and peace,