See the video here.
Devolution – the shift of power, resources, and identity away from the center and out to the margins.
This is a great model for churches of all sizes. It’s not a dismantling of the center.
Gospel communities are the way to do this. Steve Timmis thinks large churches must do it.
Two questions to answer:
HOW DO WE DO IT?
- Mind your language – language matters. It’s not just descriptive, it’s creative. Do not describe gospel communities as small groups, home groups, bible study groups. They are communities designed by the gospel for the gospel. Think of your big meeting as the aggregate of your gospel communities rather than thinking of the gospel communities as the subset of your large meeting. This is important because it shapes where you put your focus, your energy, and where you direct people. You can be certain that community is not going to happen in that big Sunday meeting. Other good things will happen, but not community. See what context the one-another commands in the bible can be applied (i.e. Col. 3:16)
- Re-design your structures – make sure they reflect a gospel community focus. That gospel communities is where the action and church takes place. Allow the GCs to shape the church. Allow the initiatives to come from GCs. Let the GCs shape the church.
- Put your money where your mouth is! – Make sure your staff who oversees the GCs is on the senior staff level. They must have influence and sway among the elders or else it won’t be meaningful and influential and effective.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
- Gospel communities are a significant point of entry – There may be people involved in GCs that are not involved in the central gathering. As the GCs become increasingly missional, then this should be expected, encouraged, and celebrated. The central gathering will also be another point of entry.
- GCs are suitably prioritized – Whatever is run centrally should not overrun what is done in the GCs. We’re not using GCs to harvest people for what we want to run centrally. The GCs will help decide who should be used for central functions.
- GCs are the pens into which the sheep are shepherded – If you’re not part of a community group then you don’t know what the church is like –Tim Keller. “If you’re not part of a GC, you need to become part of one. If you don’t want to be part of a community, then please don’t carry on coming here.” – Steve Timmis.
- GC leaders are trained and supported – At Austin City Life (Jonathan Dodson) they have (1) leadership seminars (pastoral and missional tasks), (2) on the fly training, (3) monthly coaching, and (4) missional community leaders’ meeting.
- GCs are where we do the stuff of church.
- Another failure is that they rested on their laurels as The Crowded House and they fail because they believe the press they get since people are impressed with what they’re trying to do rather than them concentrating on actually doing it (because they’re patting themselves on the back).
- You want them to want this way of living.
- So they’re excluded from the eating and breaking bread together.
- Then tell those in your GC to invite unbelievers to dinner at your house.