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Church Planting R&D: Part 3 – Small Groups, Missional Communities & Micro-Churches

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Some churches are small as a deliberate decision toward the commission of disciple-making.

Small churches seem to come in two basic forms: deliberate and symptomatic. Some church’s diminutive size is actually a symptom of internal and/or external factors hampering its obedience to disciple-making. Like a bonsai tree [1], many unnatural ecclesial forces are often inflicted on a local body in order to stunt its missionary effectiveness and perpetuate its reproductive sterility and miniaturization. In the bonsai case of smallness, a paltry missional footprint is not to be celebrated but serve as a spiritual warning indicator that its rightful first-love might have long faded into an ecclesiastical ritual.

But some churches are small as a deliberate decision toward the commission of disciple-making. To these churches, smallness becomes a means to holistic engagement and feasible reproducibility. Unlike bonsai churches, these leaders choose smallness as a way to expand the church’s missional footprint.

“Our ecclesiology should flow out of mission, not the other way around. Mission is the mother of adaptive ecclesiology; meaning if we start with engaging in God's mission, there should be lots of wild and wonderful expressions of church. The church does what it is and then organizes what it does,”says Brad Brisco.[2]This idea of adaptive ecclesiology has been fostering the development of so-called micro-churches around the world, and now it has found a home in North America.

Not all groups are created equal

It might help to envision micro-churches on a scale of development moving from normative small groups to missional communities and finally micro-churches. The typical small group provides a means of connection and care for those already involved in the church’s ministry. These groups …

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Source: Christianity Today Magazine

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