A: If only one person was in charge of each gathering, then yes, you’d want to make sure that person is of high character and theologically sound. But the glory of shared-leadership is that there is not one person in charge of doing all the work! So the risk is far less in this structure. There’s not a 40 or even 20 minute sermon in these gatherings. Which by the way, is how the early church operated (Sermonless church! Wow).
If you haven’t felt worried about what people are saying at all the small groups your church has, there’s no reason to feel differently about these gatherings. These gatherings are like family dinner with meaning, including Scripture and sacrament. Yes people may face challenges and you or someone on your staff may need to help guide them through those times. Maybe someone wants to be baptized in a micro gathering, and this time instead of you doing it for them, you empower them to do it themselves just like Jesus did for his disciples (which includes us) in Matthew 28:19! You go with them and tell them how but let them do it. How fun is that? Imagine what the church would be like if more than 3 people out of 500 knew how to baptize others.
Overall the quality people in your congregation know how to lead, they just haven’t been allowed to on Sundays. So this will require you let go of your fears and watch what the Holy Spirit wants to do through your people, and occasionally provide guidance (not control) when needed.
A: Yes! And if that’s all it took for them to not trust you to lead them in a new way, perhaps they weren’t ever really listening to you anyway.
A: You sure can but I encourage people to practice their weaker skills in the micro gathering, because then you get to watch the Spirit do new things. I love hearing what my worship-leading friends have to say about Scripture (something they don’t normally do on a Sunday), or watch them empower a child to lead worship on a Sunday instead of the other way around.
Then with all this extra time you have because you’re not planning a worship set or a sermon every week, you could do all kinds of things with your gifts! What if you could finally start that worship podcast you’ve wanted to do? Or if you’re a preacher (like I am), what if you shared sermons, God forbid, OUTSIDE of Sunday? Or wrote that book or blog you’ve wanted to write? Focusing all of our skills into one hour every Sunday is actually causing us to be used less, not more! If we could free up time to let others lead on a Sunday, we might find ourselves using our gifts even MORE in this alternative structure!
A: Yes! But the good news is, your job is already on the line, thanks to COVID but also to the progressive decline in church attendance by each new generation. This has already been a problem for a long time, and it’s time we start valuing people’s souls more than our jobs. I believe God has some amazing things in store for us that might open our horizons to being used even more effectively for His Kingdom, if we are willing to have a loose grip on our jobs.
A: Click the button below for a Q & A Grace wrote in June 2020.
A: Here are the basic components of a micro gathering that is different than conventional churches:
Led by everyone, not just one or two people. This is known as shared-leadership, which applies the “priesthood of all believers,” instead of a small percentage of the community doing all the work. This includes children!
Food and resource sharing (see COVID precautions on the JOIN page)
Trial and error encouraged
Missionally focused (individual + collective)
Natural but with risk-taking
Holy Spirit dependence
So lightweight you question if you’re doing enough (and the answer is, you are!)
A: I suggest you do not Livestream on the weeks you and your congregation are gathered in your homes practicing shared-leadership. If you continue to provide the content, people will not believe you when you tell them they can provide the spiritual goods too.
A: No! You can practice shared-leadership for them too without compromising their health! Why not have several micro-groups “adopt a shut-in”-so on Sundays they have a time designated to call or Facetime that individual to pray for them, sing a song together, or share communion virtually. They could also record videos of kids singing worship or sharing a picture they drew of a Bible story, send care packages, visit outside with masks, etc. Have your people decide the best way to care for shut-ins and “provide the content” for them, not you. You Livestreaming a worship set and sermon might actually be limiting the rich community shut-ins could still feel even though it can’t be in person right now.
A: No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying we should have both, but the large group gathering should be far less frequent than the micro gathering. Ideally you gather in shared-leadership-based micro gatherings 3-4 times/month and then once/month the micro groups gather as a large group in a building where they are led and inspired by a few people with high skills doing most the work.
Check out the Resources page for a few more articles and documents explaining how to do this and why.