A November blog
posting by Bob Buford, author of Halftime:
Moving From Success To Significance, tipped me on to a new book by
Robert Putnam titled American
Grace. Putnam’s book encompasses
his findings on the state of religion in America today based on 3,000
interviews he conducted. Here’s how
Buford introduces it:
“The book is titled American Grace, and it is the best work in print on the state of religion in America today. I want to give you a sense of the exciting findings that this dispassionate secular Harvard sociologist has discovered and documented. .. Putnam begins by saying “any discussion of religion in America must begin with the incontrovertible fact that Americans are a highly religious people. … In general, Americans have high rates of religious belonging, behaving, and believing."
Uplifting words to believers, huh? But it’s the next part about
‘the cellular model’ of evangelical and megachurches that got me to thinking:
“The typical megachurch is
both evangelical and nondenominational. For many people, their small group
is their church. Putnam discovered that in any given month, Rick Warren’s
Saddleback Church will host some 3,000 separate events. In a September
2005 New Yorker article entitled “The
Cellular Church,” writer Malcolm Gladwell
discovered the key to Saddleback was its small groups meeting together and
working on projects together.”
It was while
reading that last bit that I got inspired – why not create small groups for the
champions within your non-profit ministry?
continue, you might be thinking about MIF’s summer 2010 webinar
on giving circles. Yep, it’s a similar
idea of connecting people in a small group to get more deeply involved in a
cause(s) – and to learn, together, about philanthropy and generous giving.
circles seem to be catching on like wildfire, why not consider your existing
champions. What would it look like to
create intentional small groups or ‘cohorts’ – even a group of two or three
people matched up - to leverage the power of peer to peer relationships to promote
growth in the cause?
Giving principle #7, by the way, reminds us that peer to peer relationships are as
important as peer to organization relationships. Gladwell, too, confirms the effectiveness of
small groups within mega churches when he writes,
“The small group was
an extraordinary vehicle of commitment. It was personal and flexible. It cost
nothing. It was convenient, and every worshipper was able to find a small group
that precisely matched his or her interests.”
tried some form of this idea, post a comment.
Otherwise, a good starting point would be to share this idea with a few
interested champions (at the same level of involvement as far as P, E, and
O). Together with your champions,
identify a small group willing to experiment.
Better yet, identify a P group as well as an E group.
· 1. Encourage the group(s) to do some ministry projects
together. Ask the group to take 15
minutes after the project to share meaningful
moments or recognition of growth and transformation. Ask them to update you afterwards.
· 2. Read a book or watch a
documentary about your shared cause and discuss what you learned or share
observations. This could be done over
email as well.
· 3. Encourage the group to brainstorm ideas for a new Signature
Participation Project which would equip champions
in the cause. Challenge them to plan and direct an SPP for other champions.
Ask one member to write it up in an upcoming newsletter.
· 4. Recognize and ritualize any step taken by champions on the path
to full maturity. (See Eric
Foley’s related blog posting on this topic).
goal as a ministry leader is to equip those around you to do ‘greater
things’ in the cause. And just think: it will indeed be a happy new
year – for yourself and those individuals – when, together, you accomplish this