Take this, you whippersnappers who think you know what a computer is for. I’ve saved this particular computer-generated document for 18 years. (Plus, I’ve never had a computer virus, ever, and I exclusively use PCs.) 🙂
I have this 18-year-old letter, written to a now-dear friend who was at the time thinking of moving back to my area to plant a new church. Although I’m pleased that some of my ideas evolve relatively freely as time passes, I’m equally pleased to find that I was feeling and valuing many of the same things 18 years ago.
What follows are some of the salient points of that old letter, which described some of my “church values” at the time. The bulk pertains to what I called “Assembly as a Small Group,” followed by some material about large-group celebrations, i.e., periodic gatherings of multiple cells or small groups, assembled as one large group. While I would articulate most things in this letter roughly the same today, there are some differences, and I will save the things I now see substantially differently for last. Here goes….
On the size, place, and nature of (small) group meetings
I, like you, believe that smaller groups should be church. The most dynamic assembly occurrences should be in small groups. In the words of Paul R. Smith, whose book I am reading, “When someone asks me if we have small groups, I respond, ‘We are small groups.'”
The room should be large enough to hold 20 or 25, though I think the optimum small group size is 8-15. Chairs/couches for 10, at least. . . . Floor space for the rest, with prop pillows and such. Homey. Family style. Comfortable. The room should not give the air of affluence (leather sofas and brass ornamentation, expensive art work might not be advisable). Perhaps a plain, old converted garage with two or three ordinary sofas and a few chairs. Lots of light, too!
I want to facilitate an atmosphere in which (1) God can touch lives–ENCOUNTER, and (2) people can be in touch with other people. If things are stiff and cold, very little of either can occur without great personal fortitude.
Spontaneity is important. Spontaneity is something to be worked at, pursued, developed. It probably wouldn’t happen immediately, but I believe in it. The dynamics of the early church gatherings, from the sketchy info we have in the N.C. writings, seem to have involved free sharing of words from the Lord, songs, prayers, etc.
I like the idea of meeting on Sunday nights.
To be continued . . .