I made a short eleven month run at planting organic churches amongst the Milwaukee area next gen crowd in 2005/2006. Some aspects were widely successful; others were miserably off-the mark.
I’ve commented on the successes, failures, and learning’s elsewhere, but I still get a number of questions to the effect of “Exactly what did you do?” Some are curious observers – they’ve heard of the odd phenomena of house churches, but can’t quite discern the practical workings of it; they want a picture to look at. Others are hopeful practitioners; wholesale buyers of organic ideology, but are floating broadly on where to start. Others still are looking, for a small group “hybrid” model to take their traditional church to the next level. Whatever the reason, people have asked for a specific picture of the Root48 Organic Church Model; so here it is…
- Meet weekly for no less than 90 minutes.
- Do a full meal or high quality health snacks on the front end to build relational atmosphere. We found hospitality to be the most foundational portion for everything that follows…
- Set a start time for the meal and start time for the discussion 30 minutes later. People are free to come in anytime within this window, and the point leader will begin the introductory time when the majority has grabbed a seat. Start and end at the times you say – this makes room for the more informal stuff to take place; it’s extremely important not to act as thought the structured time is the important time.
- Groups have 1-2 point leaders, 2-8 breakout leaders, 6-50 participants.
- Point leaders take the first 20 min. in mixed groups of 6-50 people by facilitating the 1) rehashing of the mission statement – “experiencing Jesus, needing each other, and somebody else,” 2) sharing of stories on what people saw Jesus do last week, 3) prayers for what people need to see him do next week, and 4) a 1-3 minute intro to any material breakout groups will be using. Point leaders gather everyone at the end of the breakout discussions for a 1-3 min. wrap-up lesson. Point leaders are there to diagnose and orchestrate spiritual formation needs at the group level, as well as compensate for any sense of inadequacy breakout leaders fear for themselves.
- Breakout leaders take 3-6 people to a side room for 50 min., discussing a passage of scripture. We alternated each week between same-sex and co-ed breakout discussions. One breakout leader is in-charge of crafting study/application questions for the evening, and then handing it to the point leader for review. All the other breakout leaders use this as their starting point, but are asked to customize their questions for their own use. It is demanded that discussions be open minded – although the Bible is used as the starting and ending point, breakout leaders are required to facilitate open minded discussion on the topic regardless of the source.
- Participants are expected to share their thoughts and contribute their gifts. Everyone has something to give. Everyone has something to receive. If your gift didn’t come out in the discussion time, just make sure you find another time to give it.
- Give people room and reason to stay hours after the closing to continue their discussion. We ended promptly at the proscribed time each night, often cutting discussion short. With hospitable atmosphere and fresh cookies coming out of the oven, we found that most people stayed two-four hours after we were “done” to continue spiritual formation discussion on a more personal/informal level in clusters of 2-3 people. We found this to be the most fruitful portion of our evening.
- Training for Point Leaders and Breakout Leaders happens on a monthly basis. There is a “Teaching Track” for those that will be facilitating discussion, covering Hermeneutics, Exegesis, Systematic Theology, and Teaching Methods. There is a “Relational Track” for those that offer primary relational care, covering topics of Prayer, Counseling, and Evangelism. For the “someday” leaders in the making, we also had a “Personal Development Track” in the works to cover the foundations of discipleship and leadership. Members of all tracks received Bible Survey overviews.