Now the fun begins; let’s get down to the nitty-gritty…
Franklin Christian Church, our case study subject has a fascinating opportunity to change the lives of its people, and through them to make a signficant impact in its community for the Gospel. On Saturday, I began to head in this direction, and now I’ll get into the first couple of steps. An approach that entails community involvement would present FCC with the opportunity to involve its congregation in a very natural and organic outreach, while pulling all viewpoints within its own congregation together for a common purpose. However, there is one pitfall that FCC needs to avoid, a pitfall that has tripped up many before. That pitfall is having its efforts degenerate into a “public relations” effort. The community of Franklin really doesn’t need a group who does nice things to help the town, simply to get good press. No sir, Franklin, Illinois needs a relationship with Jesus Christ!
Therefore, the efforts of FCC within its community need to center on Christ, first and foremost, and they must do this beginning in a relational setting. A relational setting is where change takes place, for change within a church congregation is not merely an outward thing; it is an inward thing that takes place within the hearts and minds of people. The change we are looking to bring about in the good people of FCC is the understanding and participation in fellowship. Remember that Fellowship is Relationship + Purpose, God’s Purpose, to be exact.
Remember that FCC has a core group relationship that is already in place. Remember that one of my initial recommendations was that the core group deliberately reach out to its members who are on the fringes, members who haven’t quite become part of the FCC community, and that this has already begun. That will jump-start the “relationship” so now we must work on the “purpose.”
FCC is already in the process of beginning relational small groups where people will meet in homes to study the Bible. These kinds of small groups can be very effective when they approach the study correctly and maintain their focus. The study works best when done in a narrative style, in which the group members learn a text in advance, so that they can tell the story it contains before they come together. When they do come together, they tell the story, and make sure that nothing has been left out of it before reading the actual text in the group. Then carefully drafted questions bring out the finer points of application focusing the attention of the participants on how they can apply what they have learned into their daily lives. In a fairly short time, people in the group begin to undergo transformation as the Word of God “sinks in” and their understanding and experience increases. If you think about it, this is the method of teaching that Jesus used when alone with His disciples.
FCC is starting out with two small groups, but they need more. Another small group will be started to train additional next generation leaders to lead more small groups going forward. At the same time, the sermons taught on Sundays will be directed toward encouraging others to participate and to direct attention to the vision of the church.
As this continues for a time, small groups will usually become close and dear friends, that is close and dear friends who are centered on the purpose of making disciples, and these are the ones who will become trained by this process to reach out into the community through involvement in community activities, whether or not the activities are directly sponsored by FCC. In this way, everything that goes on in Franklin will become a FCC event. FCC will move to a high visibility status, will build a great reputation in the community, and will open doors all around town for the building of relationships with the townspeople, relationships where influence and trust are earned, and where that influence and trust can be used to influence others for the Gospel.
This is an important component, but you must understand that the participants will not be bashing anybody about the head with their Bibles, nor will they be preaching when involved in these events. They will be expected to simply comport themselves in a generous and loving manner, and make friends and build relationships so that they can earn a hearing when those they meet are ready and willing, and that time will indeed come.
That’s the strategy in a nutshell, but it’s only the beginning… see you back here in the conference room tomorrow!