In this final post I want to work through two of the biggest "when" questions: "When should we have Community Group?" and "When is it time to start new groups?" These are important questions to answer on the front end because they both deal with expectations. When they aren't answered up front, it will be harder on everyone when they come up; and they always do.
When Should We Have Community Group?
There are 2 basic ways new people get involved in a particular Community Group at Redeemer Fellowship. Both are a combination of time and priority issues. The first is by location. The membership of Redeemer is spread out over a large geographical area encompassing several suburban towns. We would say that it's ideal for people to be in close proximity to the people they are in community with. This is important because it will take less time to get to CG and easier to get together outside of the regular gathering. Being that we are all busy in one way or another, travel time can an important factor.
The second way people choose a Community Group is by time it's offered. Because we are involved with other things outside of church, it may be that the day and time of the group closest to someone conflicts with something else, whether it's work or some other obligation. For these people, they are willing to travel further for a group that meets at time that fits better in their schedule.
Either way, the important thing is that people experience the care needed while, at the same time, having the opportunity to serve those around them.
When is it Time to Start a New Community Group?
When Community Groups function the way they should, new people will be joining. As a group grows there will come a time when the entire group can't meet around the coffee table or the kitchen table. For us at Redeemer, we feel like that when the group gets between 12 to 15 adults. It becomes harder to be intimately involved in each other's lives, be praying with and for each other, and truly know each other in a group that large. When a group is approaching those numbers, it's time to discuss multiplying into more than one group. This is always difficult for those involved because real friendships have developed. While it's hard to not see all the same people week in and week out, multiplication is both necessary and healthy. It is necessary to complete the mission God has given us of making disciples and healthy because everyone (included new people) feel equally cared for and loved. This is the primary way new groups get started, but it's not the only way.
The other way new Community Groups get started is out of necessity. There have been times in Redeemer's history when a group people, maybe from a new region or area, want a CG near them. Sometimes a segment of our church needs a CG that has a particular emphasis or need (more family oriented and kid friendly perhaps, or reaching a specific segment of our church). These new groups need leaders to lead them, which either come from a trained leader from another group or as a new leader is coached and discipled into that position under the close supervision of an elder.
In all that we have covered in this series, I am stressing the importance of being involved in Christian community. Without it we miss an important (arguably the most important) part of growth as a believer. We need each other. We weren't created to walk by faith on our own. We all need to be cared for and we all need to care enough to serve one another.