After a lot of prayer, and listening to people, and reading about how people connect, and asking ourselves what is the best environment for people to take their next step with God, we landed on this... A medium sized gathering of 25 - 50 people meeting at our Warehouse (think 1,200sqft of living room type stuff in a warehouse). It is a neutral location and it will only be once a month on Sunday nights for about an hour or so.
Here is what we see happening. We will give people plenty of time to just hang out around some food and conversation. I will talk about a spiritual growth topic for about 15 minutes. Then we will give people a chance to try it, and then we will "huddle" up for 10 minutes to share and pray. We will also be having people sign up for a community service project that will happen before the next "NEXT".
Right now we have four of these set for the spring and then we will take a look at how they went and see where to go from there. Our hope is:
- To connect more new people from Sunday mornings.
- Create the opportunity for relationships to be born and hopefully from there they get together as the choose.
- Give people a practical tool for growing their own faith.
- Reach out to the community more since there is not a weekly community group commitment.
The first NEXT is on Sunday night, Feb. 28th. Stay tuned for more info as we get everything together. I would not be surprised though if we are going to see more churches move away from small groups like they did Sunday School in the 80's and 90's. The principles are what matters, community, growth, service... the methods will always change as the culture does. We still might do community groups in the summer or fall, but we will first see how NEXT goes. Everything is an experiment at the Suncoast :-)