bits from bob....
In this series of eight articles, we are discussing church growth based on seven essential ingredients for "automatic" church growth. This fifth article summarizes the fourth quality characteristic.
The church seeking to reflect the nature of God's kingdom community understands the wide variety of contexts and groups in which a holistic spiritual life is naturally developed. Research suggests that active, happy church members are involved in at least seven groups. Such groups must be spiritually and emotionally healthy and genuinely relational. Such groups must provide realistic spiritual support for integrating spirituality in the context of contemporary culture. In general, this occurs when such groups constantly proclaim the broad parameters of the shared faith (what do we believe?), define and support an individual faith (what do I believe? or how weird can I be?), and provide a context and support system for meaningfully integrating the faithful individual as part of the faith community (where do I fit in?).
Until a church successfully models the integration of individuals to the faith community, it is unlikely that members will find a holistic spirituality which provides the basis for meaningful integration and participation in the secular community.
Recognizing the need for multiple groups such as those described, the growing church seeks ever new groupings to provide relationships and meet needs, e.g. family situations, age groupings, interests, life experiences, textual studies, topical studies, demographic sets, shared tasks, nurturing through accountability and discipling, to name a few common ones.
If our time together is not preparing us for the world we will meet in coming days, perhaps we need to rethink what we are doing when we are together! Which "groups" provide you the most spiritual insight, strength, and stability? Why? Will you commit to healthier groups for a stronger spiritual life?
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