This week Redwood Church launches new small groups. These groups are a major part of what we’re doing and will do to impact our community and world. In fact, our groups are so crucial that I believe if our small groups fail, our mission will fail. Our mission, generic as it is, is “To Know Christ and Make Him Known.”
This is how our organization works: To “know Christ” we invite our friends and community to environments for spiritual formation – namely Sunday worship, ongoing teaching environments and small groups. This is where people can “come and see” what Jesus is doing in the lives of our members and discover what God has done in the person of Jesus on their behalf and on the behalf of the world. Then to “Make Christ Known” we commission our small groups to do ministry on their own — it’s a requirement. Yes! We expect our small groups to do ministry without the entanglements of a budget line item, with no administrative hoops to jump through and no executive approval. We could add those hurdles if we wanted to, but we choose to trade on and trust in personal passion, group interests and — wait for it — the movement of the Holy Spirit. My fundamental, rock-bottom belief is that the Spirit of God is among the people of God and the best thing for church leadership to do is clear the way. As I’ve said many times; only church leadership can stop a church from growing!
So, why do I tell you this? Because your organizational structure should be simple, clear and easy.
Many will push back saying, “Where are your retreats, women’s days, pancake breakfasts, monthly service projects, fellowship dinners, etc…?” Well, we have those, but they arise out our core behaviors and are infrequent. As Jim Collins points out, organizations that do more than three things, do a lot poorly. We have deliberately chosen to focus. If you ask our staff members they will tell you not only our mission, but how we do our mission. (They will soon grow sick of hearing me talk about it, I’m certain.) After they recite our mission statement they can tell you our strategy: “Relevant worship, small group interaction, and local and global responsibility.” It’s that simple, that clear, that easy.
In contrast, I sat in a board meeting for another organization recently. It was not unlike many board meetings I’ve been in throughout the years. No one in the room could tell me either the mission nor the strategy of the organization. Everyone wanted the organization to grow, do more and have a greater impact on the community, but no one knew what impact or how they were trying to do it. This kind of organizational vagueness is rampant in non-profit organizations and churches, but riddle me this: If you can’t articulate a compelling reason for the existence of your organization, why would anyone else wish to be a part of it?