Bowman testifies: "What this sermon-based groups strategy will do is give people in your church a real chance to focus their efforts on one next step of growth at a time." Read it all below . . .
I still remember the day I realized for the first time what it felt like to be a member – not staff – in a church. I was in my twenties, in my first ministry, and was preparing a message for the weekend. In a moment mixed with clarity, surrender and frustration, I realized the futility of saying anything at all that Sunday. I could have given the message of a lifetime and it would have made no difference.Why?
Because for the average person in my church, my message would be followed that week by a Sunday School class, a Sunday night sermon, a Wednesday night Bible study, and a Small group meeting. We were bombarding our people with at least 5 distinct messages a week and expecting them to make real, lasting life-change on every one of them. And I realized that day that we were asking the impossible and my message was pointless.
That’s why I have always liked North Coast Church’s approach to small groups. It’s outlined in Sticky Church, Larry Osborne’s latest book. The idea that there’s one and only one message communicated to people each week is beautiful in its simplicity. People only need to focus on one message, one life-change this week. And all their church experiences – the sermon and the small group – support that one message.
The sermon-based groups strategy has all the hot buzz-words. It’s organic - no big assimilation strategy or campaign involved. It’s incarnational and attractional – if we will be the kind of people God called us to be and that will open doors to invite people to investigate this life for themselves.But the strategy is deeper than the buzz.
North Coast has been executing this strategy well for a long time. So long that it’s clear and simple to them. While this book doesn’t offer the simple solutions for all your group life problems, you’ll be tempted to believe it DOES as you read. Larry presents some ideas in a fashion that appears overly-simplified. Like in Chapter 9 where he makes it sound as though this sermon-based groups strategy will make recruiting group leaders really easy. It’s not. It seldom is. But it seems simple to Larry because they have been at it so long. And writing the curriculum takes discipline from the pastor to prepare far enough in advance to give the Groups staff time to write the group guides. No part of that is simple. Nor is it simple to change to this strategy overnight – it will mean killing more than a few sacred cows.
What this sermon-based groups strategy will do is give people in your church a real chance to focus their efforts on one next step of growth at a time. And that’s good enough – and simple enough - for me to give it a shot.So these days I am trying to keep it simple. I would love to get as simple as North Coast – but our church is not there yet. How about you? Taking steps in that direction?
3 John 8