Life as a Pastor…

Had the Connect Group [CG] leaders round last night. They brought loads of food, lots of conversation. We squeezed them in.

Spent a lot of the day putting the final pieces in the CG puzzle as we make some changes to the structure. Change is never easy. It has to be for the right reasons not just because we can. CGs have been a huge success for Xcel this year, growing by nearly 20% in attendance. From our perspective they are how we measure the health of the church. People connecting, doing life together, sharing the journey, caring for one another, encouraging, supporting and praying – it’s priceless. It’s church at its very best.

As we talk vision, it’s important to recognise those things that work in accomplishing that vision. CGs help us do this. As we grow larger, the community of CGs grows in importance. I’ve never been great with names and with new people joining Xcel all the time, I don’t suppose it will get any easier. CGs provide a way for people to belong to Xcel and find their place. To feel, connected.

We are excited about the future of CGs.
Changing the structure will facilitate growth.
Changing the structure will grow those who are part of a CG.
Changing the structure will help us focus on equipping the leaders
, pastoring people on their journey with God. This is a culture shift for many church-goers who only count a visit or prayer from the Pastors as genuine pastoral care. (Doesn’t mean we don’t do this – just in case you were concerned)
Love that the leaders embrace it wholeheartedly. That certainly makes the change easy.

Begs the question why some people who could be part of a CG aren’t. Don’t get me wrong – that’s not a criticism, just a question. We can only encourage everyone to get involved – the choice then is up to you.

[What do you think?]

Book Review: Sticky Church by Larry Osborne

Don’t know about you but as a relatively new Pastor I understand the importance of seeing new people coming to Xcel Darlington. The challenge is will they keep coming back? A wide open door is great but it will have little impact if the back door of Church is just as wide.

That was the dilemma facing Pastor Larry Osborne at North Coast Church in San Diego. That’s why small groups were introduced and more than that, sermon-based small groups. The aim: to slam the back door shut and make the church a sticky church. Small groups became the main tool to help people stick. (Check out the Sticky Church website for more info).

We do small groups at Xcel. I think we do them fairly well. This book encouraged me that we are on the right tracks. I’m not saying that we should adopt the philosophy exactly – in fact, the book does encourage you to work out the aims of your small groups and then stick with them. Don’t keep tweaking. Don’t keep changing.

The message keeps coming: get small groups working and church will grow. Not because the groups are evangelistic but because those who come on a Sunday are instantly plugged into a small group. They stick as a result of starting to do life with others, building what can become life-long relationships, sharing the Christian journey together, overcoming challenges, celebrating success, supporting each other. A great small group is a beautiful thing.

The book is a useful resource for Pastors who have never done small groups, maybe don’t have a model to look at or their existing set up is just not working. It answers questions, it’s easy to read and makes an excellent argument for working hard to make small groups successful. If nothing else the final chapter has 5 questions that I think anyone with or without small groups should answer.

If you have read it, tell me what you think. Get your copy here.