We have five values as a church. These are the values that we know drive our behaviour as a church and help us to work out what we should do.
As I said in my last post the place in which values are rooted and grow are in our small groups (which we call cell groups). As a cell group learns to embed the values in their cell we find that the impact isn’t only in that group but also in the life of the wider church.
My wife, as our cell co-ordinator, led a discussion with out cell leaders & pastors as to how you would know a cell was making progress in their attempts to live out the values in their cell. For each of the five values they looked at how you might see this happening.
What was fascinating is that many of the ideas that they came up with were not grandiose ways but in small but significant ways. You often notice, don’t you, that it is in the small things that you show what you really think.
So, our first value is All Involved. By this we mean that every person is valued; every person plays a unique part and every person can, and is encouraged to, use their God-given gifts to help build God’s Kingdom.
We see that cell groups are safe places, where people can experiment and try new things. Many people are nervous at trying new things – reading or praying aloud, sharing ideas about what a Bible story may mean for them. So, in our cell groups, we want people to try and to know that they are in a safe place and will be affirmed.
Some of these are small ways, but important. For example, remembering birthdays. A group that celebrates important dates/ events in each others lives is ensuring that everyone is valued, everyone is remembered. Putting structures in to remember these is to say that it’s worth doing because they are worth remembering.
Or take hospitality. In some settings the small group leader can feel obliged to lead AND be the fount of all knowledge AND host AND provide refreshments. In our cells we encourage this to be shared out. Different people bring refreshments or host the meeting. It ensures that everyone is involved and not just the few.
The meeting itself, based on encouraging the values, has four key parts to it. The Welcome when people gather and can use an icebreaker, a period of Worship, a period when you look at the Word and finally a period to pray for people (inside and outside) and plan what you are doing for your next social etc (known as the Witness).
Within this structure you find that people can be valued and encouraged and as people realise that they are then more prepared to step out and to step up. Reading a Bible passage out loud can be a big step for some; or praying out loud. All Involved says that instead of looking for very high standards people bring what they have and we look to God to bless what they bring to God to use.
People start where they are and so often we see them growing in confidence and faith. This then spills over into the life of the church. I remember one middle-aged woman terrified of reading out loud (and hadn’t since school) who was encouraged by her cell to do the reading. Everyone in church applauded her on completion! You can imagine what it did to her confidence and willingness to try again.
Or take leading prayers. By a cell group being responsible (and also for the reading, welcoming people and refreshments at the end of the service) there is encouragement and help – it becomes something that people find possible to do.
All Involved is part of our protection against the cults of professionalism and consumerism, the view that says you are only of value if you are really good at something. The small steps that our cell groups take build up people and care for them and help to change those around them. The old rule says that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. That is definitely not the case in Springfield. When I last did a back of an envelope calculation we had at least 80% of people involved in the work at Springfield. Our aim is to nurture people so that they can grow and and make an impact for God’s Kingdom.
Do share other ways in which you have found that a small group has had a positive impact on your being able to do new things or being involved.
Other posts in the series: