great post by Diane
I almost always agree with Dan Edelen at Cerulean Sanctim. However, a while back, he wrote a blog post entitled, Being the Body: How to Forge Real Community, Part 1 in which he made this statement,
If there's no real community at your church, then the Holy Spirit's not there. Pure and simple.
Well, not exactly. If there are Christians there, the Holy Spirit will be there since He's IN us. The problem in most churches as I see it is a poor organizational structure to bring people together. And to be fair, Dan has also spoken about this in the past too. I have rarely been in an evangelical church where people really didn't want to come together. In fact the problem in my view was ALWAYS poor structures that either weren't set up to bring people together; or, actually prevented people from coming together.
That is why I am such a BIG fan of church home groups.
Some time ago, I wrote about how churches could successfully organize and implement these groups. A list of posts in that series is below. God has shown me over and over that diversity is what He is into. To achieve this diversity,
1. We need to have more intergenerational Adult Sunday School classes combining all ages and marital statuses.
2. We need to have geographical home groups (home groups whose members are from the same area/zip code). I believe elders, at least at first, should lead these geographical home groups. Having just anyone lead home groups is misleading as home group leaders do more than "host." Elders should lead these groups (at the beginning especially) for several reasons. First, the groups need to start with the best leadership in the church. And there should be assistants in training. And second, it gives elders an opportunity to get to know people in the church.
3. We need to do more ice breaker games at all-church dinners. Also, have people sit in their zip codes if the church either doesn't have home groups, or if those groups aren't geographical.
When people get to know others, they care because the Holy Spirit then has the freedom to flow.
But, on the other hand, here is how to keep the status quo and the clique groups.
1. Keep your Sunday schools according to age and marital status. In other words, separate singles and marrieds; young, middle-aged and elderly; disabled from able-bodied; and have classes for those who have been trapped in certain sins--a class for codependents, one for ex-homosexuals, one for ex-alcoholics, one for ex-motorcycle gang members, etc.
2. Don't have any home groups. But if you do, be sure to allow church members to sign up for any group they want. That way, they will sign up to be with their friends. Never have geographical home groups--they are deadly to the clique mentality.
Here is the series I wrote almost two years ago about how to organize and run home groups in churches.
Cell Churches vs. Home Groups
Home Groups: Why?
Home Groups: Where and When?