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?