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					Summary of

Creating Community: 5 Keys to Building A Small Group Culture
by Andy Stanley & Bill Williams

Part I – People Need Community
Chapter 1: A Culture Craving Relationships - We live a culture that is craving for real relationships. - We have traded the front porch, which encouraged connection and interaction with neighbors, for the back patio, which promotes isolation. - We are a lonely and isolated culture. Chapter 2: It’s Not All Good - We were never meant to live in a state of functional isolation. - God’s Original Plan was for us to live in relationships. - Aloneness was not good – even before sin came into the world. - Isolationists have lost the biblical perspective on relationships. - Isolationism breads a fear intimacy - Isolationism breads selfishness & self-absorption - Isolationism breads poor health. - We all need loving connected relationships. - We were created like God, in His image, and He is a relational being as evidenced by the Trinity. Chapter 3: The Divine Community - One of God’s biggest dreams (plans) for us is authentic community. - Jesus prayed that His disciples would be one – just as He and the Father were one. - Our relationship with each other is the criterion by which the truth of our message is judged. (They will know we are Christians by our love.) - God has called the Church to be about creating community – an environment where believers are in meaningful relationships with one another.

Part II – Leaders Need Clarity
Chapter 4: Clarify the Goal - Take time to plan and think about what you are doing and why. - Three Important Questions: 1) What do we want people to become? 2) What we want people to do? 3) Where do we want people to go? - Question #1 helps us clarify the goal or mission of the church. (2 common categories: Skill based churches or Bible-knowledge churches) - The Church’s Mission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” (Matt.28:18-19) 1

- This means that the church’s “purpose is to relationally connect people in such a way that it encourages them to follow Christ.” • What do we want people to become? We want our people to become people who are growing in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Chapter 5: Define Spiritual Maturity - This chapter concerns question #2. How are we going to accomplish our purpose? - First we must correct the fallacy that spiritual maturity is achieved by going thru a series of classes or completing a curriculum. - What demonstrates a growing relationship with Jesus Christ? - Spiritual maturity is demonstrated by growth in our love for God and for others, both inside the church and outside the church. - Spiritual maturity is meant to involve a continual pursuit of our relationship with God and others. It is like physical fitness in the sense that it must be continually pursued. - Maturing believers are people who are growing in community with other believers by spending time together, encouraging one another and supporting one another. - Maturing believers are people who are investing their lives in nonbelievers and inviting them to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ. They are pursuing influence with those outside the Faith. - Intimacy with God and others does not just happen – it requires regular and intense effort. • What do we want people to do? We want our people to continually pursue three vital relationships: (a) Intimacy with God; (b) Community with other believers; and (c) Influence with nonbelievers. Chapter 6: Decide Where People Go - This chapter concerns question #3. – Where do you want people to go? - Answering this question helps a church clarify the “win”. - For Northpoint, the answer is: We want people to go into a small group. - This is because people can continually best pursue the three vital relations in small groups. - Conclusion: sustained life change happens best within intentional relationships, i.e. small groups. • Where do we want people to go? We want our people to go to small groups so that they can become people who are growing in their relationship with Jesus Christ by continually pursuing the three vital relationships.

Part III – Churches Need Strategy
Chapter 7: Find Your Word - It is vital for every organization to find the word they want used to describe them. - Finding your word is a vital step in developing an effective strategy. - Like other organizations, churches are known for something, i.e. evangelism, missions, worship, doctrine, service.

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- For Northpoint the word they settled on was “relational,” because they want their people to be actively pursuing the three vital relationships. Chapter 8: Choose Your Strategy - A strategy is the method used to accomplish a mission or achieve a goal. - A great strategy is simple to understand and easy to implement. - Why small groups? 1. Small groups support the “invest and invite” evangelism strategy. 2. Small groups decentralize church leadership and care. 3. Small groups enable more people to serve (during worship services). 4. Small groups help develop authentic community. 5. Small groups offer maximum flexibility. 6. Small groups allow us to be better stewards (no need for large education space). 7. Small groups remove the primary limits to growth (space & parking). Chapter 9: Close the Door - Closed Groups: means no new additions to the group unless the entire group agrees. - Why closed groups? 1. Closed groups are predictable – participants know who will be coming. (Revolving door groups – frequent changes inhibit relational growth.) 2. Closed groups promote accountability, belonging and caring – community. Accountability: inviting others into your life to challenge you in your priorities and relationships. Belonging: The sense of feeling accepted, connected and comfortable with a group of people. Care: Connected people care fore one another by meeting needs & ministering. 3. Closed groups promote and allow spiritual growth. - Closed groups should have a planned ending to promote freshness and focus. (This helps prevent stagnation and unhealthy inward focus.)

Part IV – Connection Needs Simplicity
Chapter 10: Create Steps - Our strategy will not be effective if people have a difficult time getting in a small group – connecting. (Too many options make the process difficult.) - Clarify the Win: We want everybody to participate in a small group. - Think Steps: These are the steps adopted by Northpoint. 1st Step – We invite guests into the ‘foyer’ (Sunday morning service and other large meeting environments). 2nd Step – Guests step from the foyer into the ‘living room’ (medium sized environments – Starting Point groups) and become friends. 3rd Step – Friends step from the living room into the ‘kitchen’ (in-home environments – small groups) and become family.

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Chapter 11: Make Them Easy - For steps to be effective they need to be obvious (easy to see) and strategic (it takes you where you need to go). - The connection process needs to be easy, obvious and strategic. - The living room environment is one obvious connection link. (Starting point groups & group-links are recommended.) Chapter 12: Try Before You Buy - People are naturally hesitant to commit to a long-term small group. - 6-8 week “group date” period helps to overcome this hesitancy. (The group date allows people to change groups if they do not fit well.) (Northpoint calls their groups “starter groups” during this date period.)

Part V – Processes Need Reality
Chapter 13: Deal in Reality - Do not ask for unrealistic commitments from your volunteers. - The average person can do lead or attend 20 things per year in addition to participating in a group. - Group processes must be realistic. - Group processes should be designed with the average person in mind. - Group leader qualifications must be reasonable and realistic. Qualifications: - Leaders need to be connected to the church, i.e. members. - Leaders need to have character. - Leaders need to embrace the small-group culture; they agree with and support the small-group strategy and values of the church. - Leaders need to have good chemistry with the staff and other leaders. - Leaders need to have a level of competence - Group leader expectations need to be reasonable and realistic. - Leaders serve as under-shepherds of their group by facilitating group meetings (process and logistic issues) and monitoring the group (function issues). - We must be flexible and willing to make occasional modifications. Chapter 14: Train Less For More - Focus each training session on a few key takeaway points. (More information does not translate into more learning.) - You can actually improve how much people learn if you teach them less. - Choose to teach what people most need to hear. - Say more about what matters the most. - Northpoint Essentials: 6 Essentials to Leading Well. 1. Think Life Change: [I believe this should be: Think Spiritual Maturity] 2. Cultivate Relationships: This requires intentional action. 3. Promote Participation: Leaders are to direct the discussion not dominate it. 4. Replace Yourself: This requires intentional apprenticeships. 5. Provide Care: By example encourage group to care for one another.

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6. Multiply Influence: Prepare groups to end and multiply. Chapter 15: Set Up For Success - Position your small groups ministry for success by following these 5 factors. 1. Simplicity: Keep your strategy simple. 2. Visibility: Keep your small groups ministry highly visible. 3. Valued: Demonstrate the value of your small groups ministry by celebrating the successes. 4. Resourced: Invest your resources in your small groups ministry. (This includes your time, energy, personnel, training and money.) 5. Modeled: Senior leaders must model small groups participation.

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