by Rob Campbell
My church family is beginning Midsize Community Groups. Authors Bob Hopkins and Mike Breen call these groups “clusters.” As a matter of fact, Hopkins and Breen wrote a book entitled CLUSTERS: Creative Mid-Sized Missional Communities.
I am currently reading this book and was recently inspired to form MCGs after hearing Hopkins and Breen speak on this issue. In a nutshell, Hopkins and Breen are seeing remarkable success with MCGs in tough to reach places such as (Eastern) Europe. My understanding is that American churches are testing the waters with MCGs as well. MCGs might be something your cell church would want to know about.
According to Hopkins and Breen:
Clusters are mid-sized groups (larger than cells and smaller than celebrations) which grow together in their relationship to God as they explore relevant whole-life spirituality.
Clusters build Christian community as places of belonging and participation…on days, times and places that suit (they are quite distinctly different from inherited “Sunday Service”).
Clusters gain identity and purpose from a united mission and vision, being called to a clear geographic or network focus and engaging with the social patterns of that culture and context.
Clusters are linked together by a network of support and accountability to a diversity of other mid-sized groups.
Clusters are led by ordinary unpaid Christians in their non-work time, both receiving and passing on Jesus’ pattern of discipleship.
A pastor friend of mine recently used this metaphor concerning the cell church as it relates to Clusters (MCGs). The cell is like a hot tub– it can be intimate and small. These are not negative descriptors, just reality.
Celebration is like a swim meet– few participants and many spectators. These are not negative descriptors, just reality.
Side note: Please know that cells and Celebration are (for the most part) attractional. Once again, this is not a negative descriptor, just reality.
This pastor says, “What we need are `pool parties.’ A gathering of 30-50 people who are missional and incarnational.” They have a passion for `x,y,z’ which is directly hinged to the vision of the church and they purposefully integrate their lives into their respective community. For example, one MCG gathers twice a month. When they come together, they enjoy dinner together and celebrate the Lord’s Supper. They sing a few worship songs and then they go…to an elderly person’s home and work for two to three hours. Indeed, much can be accomplished by 30-50 people in a few hours!
So, here’s what I want to know. Is anyone out there in this blog community doing MCGs (Clusters)?
Tell us about it. Further, do you think MCGs could invigorate the mission, passion, and vision of your church family?
3 thoughts on “Mid-size Community Groups”
We are currently supporting a church plant to mostly post-modern young adults and our planter has started with clusters, and is building the whole plant around clusters. In fact, that’s the term he uses. He’s been in dialogue with Joel Comiskey a bit to think about the difference between “cells” (of no more than 15) and “clusters” (which he’d allow to grow to perhaps 30. Jim (the church planter) has had great success in multiplying clusters just as we would think about multiplying cells. He’s currently got 2 clusters, with two more emerging soon. He believes these mid-sized groups have great appeal and potential for relationally-hungry young adults, especially as they engage in mission. Jim is a Fuller Sem grad, very gifted and bright guy with a passion and capacity to relate to unchurched people and love them that is unique. His vision is to plant such churches throughout the U.S. I am on the Board for this church plant and Jim is a good friend. I hope to bring him and a couple of his church planting cluster-leaders togetehr with some of our leaders from HOPE to the Church Planting Church Conference at Antioch Community in Waco around Nov 8-10. Since it’s only a couple hours from you, perhaps we could add a day before or after that conference and drive down to spend some time with you and members of your team. YOu can check out his website at: regenerationla.org Very missional focus. They’re starting their first celebration in late September (perhaps once a month for now).
Grace to you,
HOPE Christian Fellowship, San Gabriel, CA
Sounds good. Let’s connect. I’ll buy lunch!
That would be great. I’d love to meet you face to face. Joel Comiskey has been consulting with us for over a year now, and he’s spoken of you highly. I”ll be in touch via email to see about setting up a time. If we were to try to connect BEFORE or AFTER Nov 10-12 (Mon-Wed), which might work better for you? We’ve not yet set up our travel schedules.
Grace to you,