Most church planters have had visions of their new church running through their mind for years. When the moment finally arrives and they are standing in front of their initial band of people, their core group, the planter often thinks this is the time to give birth to five years of thinking and planning…all in 45 minutes – let me suggest you don’t do that!
Your first few core group meetings are essential because they set the tone for the first few years of your church’s life. Your job in these meetings is not to teach your people everything you’ve learned or planned in the last five years. You should have three simple goals in mind: inform their minds, stir their hearts, and engage their hands.
Here are three guidelines as you plan your meetings:
1. Keep It Simple, Stupid
Do not treat core group meetings as times for massive theological dumps. Rather, focus on one big idea.
Just like in your preaching, see core group meetings as a time to zoom in on ONE idea that will shape your church: creating a culture of hospitality, how to love outsiders, or how to pray together, for instance.
Church planters need to be constantly reminded: KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID.
2. Give Them Something to Do
You don’t want to simply convey information. You also want to give your people tasks.
This is huge for two reasons: your people will mature as they live out the implications of the gospel, and having expectations for people will weed out those who aren’t committed. If you’re talking about how to reach the non-Christians in your community, ask them to go home and spend a few minutes each day praying for three people to put their faith in Jesus. For a core group of 30, that means nearly 100 people are being prayed for. You could even have them write names on sticky notes and fill a wall with lost people you are praying for.
Remember: don’t just give them information; give them opportunities to get to work!
3. Pastor Your People
Don’t be in such a rush to grow your church that you miss the beautiful opportunity to love and shepherd your core group.
This is perhaps the sweetest time in the life of a church for the founding pastor—you can know everyone’s name, you can draw near to their hearts and walk through life’s difficulties with them. Don’t get so caught up in creating systems and strategies that you forget to simply love and shepherd your core group.