Letter to the Congregation Regarding Small Groups
October 19, 2014
Dear Brothers, Sisters, Friends, and Supporters of Littleton Christian Church,
Just over a month ago, on September 14, we held a congregational meeting to describe the church’s plan over the next 5 years pursue our vision to Love God, Love Each Other, and Love the World more fully, more effectively, and more courageously. Far from a new, fancy, creative, cutting edge idea, the plan was to do something that we see God calling his people to do from nearly the beginning: to intentionally pursue him and one another in small groups.
The hope for these small groups is that eventually – even if it takes years – they will become as central to the life of LCC as our Sunday gathering. In fact, our vision of Loving God, Loving Each Other, and Loving the World can be said differently and get at the same thing: we aim to celebrate and apply the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By necessity, these larger gatherings on Sundays are primarily about celebrating the Gospel, and secondarily about applying it. We can talk about applying it, and worship, fellowship, prayer, and communion are certainly applications of it, but the truth is that the full application of the gospel happens on “the other six days.” That’s where the vision for small groups comes in. In small groups, we believe there is much more of a possibility of applying the gospel, which is their primary goal. Of course, any time the gospel is the subject, we can’t help but celebrate it – the true gospel always leads to worship and admiration. To do this, we know it will take significant investment of time for organizing, guiding, and encouraging groups, so we’ve asked Jordan to come onto the staff in a full time capacity to lead the effort. What a gift.
So, at the congregational meeting, Jordan and I, along with several elders, talked at length about this vision. This is not the first, nor the second, nor the third time this church has attempted to organize into small groups. Basically all we’ve learned from the previous attempts is that small groups are hard. They are a sacrifice of time, they involve close contact with people you wouldn’t ordinarily choose to spend time with, they’re difficult for families with kids, and when kids are making things complicated they are difficult for people without kids. And so, at the congregational meeting, we described the first phase of our plan to roll out small groups: we asked anyone who was inspired to help build this culture to step forward as the initial leadership team. I’ll be honest – we were expecting 10-12 people at most. Our vision for the first phase was very intensive. And we wanted to build slow so this thing doesn’t become yet another flash in the pan. But praise God with me: this week we gathered those who have stepped forward to help, and we had 24 people present, with several more who wanted to be and couldn’t! Obviously, God’s plan for this ministry is different than ours.
Many of you are maybe hearing about this for the first time today. For whatever reason you weren’t able to attend the congregational meeting, and I have failed to make the content of that meeting available in any other format – by email, announcement, on the Table, or anything else. This thing has moved so fast, with so many people diving in, that we never felt it necessary to make another announcement! In retrospect, God was doing His good work of blowing up our “plan,” but I was not responding well to that. I wanted control. Slow it down. Slow it down. That’s what I wanted.
This little speech has two purposes: first, to say “PRAISE THE LORD,” for he clearly led the process of initiating an all-church structure of small groups, and you, his people, are responding. But second, it is to say please forgive us if you have been left out. One of my responsibilities in this church is to keep the body informed of what God is doing in our midst. And this week, God used several very difficult conversations to show me that there are even more people who are primed and ready for this exciting step of ministry.
God also used this week to loosen my grip of control on this, and I suspect that’s true for Jordan too. The more we prayed and plotted among the two of us, the more specific our vision for this thing became. But he has bigger, better plans than this. We have much to learn. I’ve spoken – I even did this week – as if the vision we had for this is better, and different, than what any believers have ever done. That’s not true: God has been leading his people to do just this since Jesus first started building his church with 12 Jewish ragamuffins, and throughout the world, he has enabled his church to do it really well.
So here’s what I’m asking of you today: first, please FORGIVE us for a failure to communicate it clearly. Second, PRAY that God has his way in this ministry. Specifically, I will tell you that I have seen and experienced more spiritual resistance from satan and his demons to this effort than anything we’ve tried to do in years. If you are feeling offended or hurt, confused or angry, suddenly pulled away from the church – there’s a strong possibility that our enemy is trying desperately to keep his people isolated from one another. Third, if you want to be part of the first phase, part of the CULTURE MAKERS, connect with Jordan. Email him, call him, send him a pigeon message, grab him after a service, whatever. It has become clear this week when we were planning to really launch the first phase that we need the wisdom and insights of this body. Navigating diverse schedules, geographical challenges, difficult personalities, kids, and more… is “above our paygrade” if Jordan and I are trying to do it alone! We need you. Fourth, consider supporting it financially above and beyond what you give now, both to help us free Jordan to serve in this regard (this is his gift, even beyond leading music – he has a gift to spur believers to love and good deeds), and to help us provide materials and structure for these groups.
With deep Love in the Lord,