Several months ago I was put in charge of Adult Ministries at my church, and I was very nervous about the prospect. We were planted a little over seven years ago, and during that time our Adult Ministries have been led by five different pastors (I am the fifth). With the lack of stability we have experienced, it almost goes without saying that Adult Ministries, and particularly home groups, has been one of the weaker areas in our church. When I assumed this new role, our weekly Sunday attendance was hovering near 500, but there were only two home groups actively meeting. This lack of activity was certainly a blessing to my efforts, as it has allowed me to begin to pioneer a completely new Home Groups ministry at Our Place, which I have based on two key principles.
1. Home Groups exist to create loving, long-lasting friendships. We don't focus on Bible study or spiritual formation or leadership development or discipleship or any of the many other potential reasons or purposes for Home Groups. Loving, long-lasting friendships. That's it.
2. Home Groups have no formal leadership structure or requirements. We don't do leadership recruiting or training. We don't have teachers or disciple makers. We have people open their homes as hosts, put people together with them, and let them figure it out. They watch DVDs or read books together and then discuss what they watched and/or read. No lesson plans, no teacher/student hierarchy. Just friendships.
In less than four months we now have 12 active groups meeting with 92 adults involved. And we are still growing. I am tentatively hoping to see those numbers double by next summer. Things are still very experimental at this point. I am still a little nervous about attrition and longevity. We are launching more new groups beginning in January, but I want to make sure that the existing groups remain healthy and active.
What do you think of leaderless home groups that aren't focused on discipleship? I'd love to know what your home group experience has been at your church.