CG Leader Summit RECAP
april 27, 2018
Where Are We?
As of our April 2018 membership meeting, 307 individuals form the covenant membership of Cities Church. These members comprise 20 Community Groups spread throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul, putting us at 15.3 ‘Covenant Members per Community Group,’ with several groups also including non-members. Two new Community Groups branch out this month — The Harmony CG and Bancroft CG.
The CG Leader Pipeline includes 45 men of Cities Church in three different tracks that each meet monthly as a church planting boot camp.
In just a few weeks, on May 20, we are commissioning our first church plant, All Peoples Church, to the Phillips neighborhood of South Minneapolis; Dan Nichols, our next church planting resident, is preparing to step into the box as he works toward building a church planting team this summer; and additionally, at least one new church planting conversation is in the works.
Our whole disciple-making structure stems upward to the fruit of church planting.
How Are We Doing?
Back in January we rolled out two new changes to our Community Groups: More Flexibility and More Intentionality. For flexibility, we introduced a new meeting time option on the weekends. In our discussion on Sunday night, several groups have been trying the weekend meetings, and have had great success. A handful of benefits for the Friday or Saturday meetings were mentioned:
- more time to fellowship
- less stress about work or school the next day
- more natural time to share a meal
- an off day leading prior to the meeting contributes to a better vibe
We are currently at a crucial time for reconsidering our weekly rhythms. The Wednesday night rhythm has served us well for our first few years, but we must routinely ask: Does this serve our people or create hindrances? Is it more of a help or a headache?
One positive thing about having members set aside Wednesday nights is the anticipated high attendance it would afford us at quarterly membership meetings. However, that has not been the case recently as our membership has grown. So reconsidering Wednesdays is a topic that the pastoral team is currently tackling, and the input of our CG leaders is important. If you have additional thoughts or questions, please contact me and let me know.
For intentionality, we are now requiring meeting reports for each of your CG meetings. These reports have been a helpful addition in the pastoral team’s ability to track the progress of each Community Group. Over the last few months groups have made deliberate efforts to move to the next level, and they’ve tracked these efforts in the reports. The reports have also been helpful in informing the pastors on ways that we can be praying for our Community Groups and individual members.
Obstacles to Disciple-Making
Our mission is straightforward: make disciples of Jesus (Matthew 28:18–20). Make disciples by baptizing and teaching, that is, by taking the gospel to people out there (distance) and by bringing the gospel to reign in here (depth). We tell of his love, inviting others to meet him as the treasure he is. And we teach of his love, journeying alongside one another to taste the fullness of life in him.
So how are we doing with that?
Well, when it comes to discipleship in distance — conversions — we have not had as many as we want over the last three years. The question goes like this:
How many conversions have we had?
[Answer: not enough]
Second question: How many of us are actively engaging unbelievers and sharing the gospel with them?
[Answer: not enough]
Put plainly, we cannot expect to have conversions if don’t actively engage unbelievers and share the gospel with them. But then the question becomes:
Why aren’t more of us actively engaging unbelievers and sharing the gospel with them?
And there is more than one answer to this question — maybe as many answers as we have members. But the one thing, I think, that comes up most consistently, the thing that has emerged in our pipeline meetings, and that I feel in my own life, is time. Nobody has enough time.
When It Comes to Time
And that’s not a sinful thing in itself, at least not right away. Don’t misunderstand the absence of time for outsiders to directly equal being consumed with ourselves. That might be the case, but it’s not necessarily the case, and in fact, I think it’s very rare that any of us are choosing to do sinful things over connecting with unbelievers and sharing the gospel with them.
It’s more like we’re choosing to go to our kids’ play at school, or we have a work function one evening, or we show up for Life Group, or we date our spouse. These are not sinful things; they are good things — and that’s the conundrum. The absence of time, most of the time, comes down to choosing good things over good things — it comes down to faithful prioritizing.
That’s not meant to let us off the hook if we’re wasting our time. It’s meant to ease us into honest self-assessment. Go back to the sermon here and remember that God does indeed call us to new things. He leads us to take new steps and do more things. Or, he also leads us not so much to do more things, but to do some things differently.
Either way, when it comes to disciple-making, we as pastors don’t want to just lay another brick on your load. We’re not trying to “layer it on” for so many of us who are already just trying to make it through each day. And this is why disciple-making can’t be another add-on (we can’t take more add-ons!), but rather, disciple-making must be part of our everyday rhythms.
Steve Timmis and Tim Chester have explained the mission of disciple-making like this: “Ordinary people doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality.” So don’t think Something extra; think: Slow down.
Slow down and take a look at your life, at where you spend your time, at the people God has put in your path. How might the Spirit be going before you and inviting you into gospel mission? Where are there disciples to be made?
This is the start.
Here’s another paradigm shift: think gospel conversations instead of gospel presentations.
You don’t need to present every point of the gospel in order for your conversations to be meaningful. That takes time, and if you’re only banking on encounters like that, it likely reduces the number of people you engage. Instead, aim toward having conversations with people.
Conversations naturally revolve around the things that bother us or excite us. In Alvin Reid’s latest book, he says we all talk about “pains and passions.” Just pay attention to that the next time you’re talking with someone. If the conversation makes it past the weather, it’s going to touch on something the person likes or dislikes. Some kind of value-judgment takes place, introducing all kinds of ways for us to ask more questions. This is how we hear peoples’ stories, and get to know them, and become friends. This is also how normal conversations become gospel conversations. As we hear about others’ pains and passions, we’ll hear about their brokenness — that is, about the ways that their lives have deviated from God’s design. This is precisely the point where the gospel speaks up, perhaps directly into their story, or perhaps by us sharing our own story and the ways that Jesus has changed us. The Spirit is at work, and he will guide us.
Engage people — neighbors, friends, co-workers, strangers; be the ‘say-hey people’ who want to know the people of our cities; and aim for Jesus to be part of that conversation. He is the most important thing about us.
With our next baptism scheduled for August 26, let us pray and plan for more gospel conversations this summer — plowing, planting, watering, longing for God to give the growth.