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The missing middle

Humans gather in a variety of ways for different reasons. 
  • There is the thrill and drama of being in a big crowd watching a sporting event or artistic performance. 
  • There is the understanding and support from having a coffee with a few of your closest friends. 
  • There is the experience of community and action that comes from being involved in a working bee at the local primary school.

I would like to suggest that there are similar categories of gatherings for Christians.
  1. There is the inspiration and teaching that comes from a worship service
  2. There is the support, encouragement, and personal advice that comes from meeting in a small group/cell group
  3. There is the impact that comes from a group of Christians working together to make a bigger difference in the world around them.
People at St Thomas's in Sheffield have found that this third gathering works best as a mid-sized group - larger than a small group of 8-12 people and smaller than a large Sunday service.  They have found that mid sized groups of 20-50 people are small enough to have a common purpose but large enough to do something about it.  They are not so small that the success of the activitiy can be undermined by the absence of a few people and they are not so large that it is difficult to coordinate or have everybody involved.

Those of you who have been learning about lifeshapes may recognise that the strengths of these three forms of gatherings align with the UP IN and OUT dimensions of the Christian life described by the triangle.

One of the things we are starting to look at here at Stonnington Baptist Church is the development of some of these mid sized groups that are focussed on mission activities.


David Wanstall, 23/07/2008