Undaunted Courage

A case study of Park Street Church, which launched small groups and transitioned—and grew—from a congregation of primarily older people to mostly 20-somethings.

PSC (www.parkstreet.org) is a unique historic (1809) city church with membership around 1700 and a weekly attendance of 2200. There are two morning services, very conservative, with a large population of older people. Evening services over the years previously attracted a couple hundred but has constantly decline resulting in only 30-40 in attendance in 1992. Evening contemporary service started fall of 1993 attracting hundreds of young people.

The time was right for a small group ministry which began in the fall of 1994. After 6 years the groups reached 100 involving 1200 people. Small accountability groups, college age and international ministry groups are not included in this number. The demographics of the church changed dramatically with the attendee's average age becoming 28.

PSC over the years had experienced few to many small groups for a short time and for some particular purpose, such as mission conference week. For the long run, only a handful were on-going and those had a history of being together for many years. I was hired in early 1994 to "just do it". With the luxury of doing only small groups, I began the huge undertaking with undaunted courage. I certainly couldn't let anyone know how incapable I suddenly felt. I had several years of small group management experience at a smaller church and the challenge of growing a small group ministry within a huge church where the ministerial support team had not yet bought into the small group vision was quite frankly frightening. The senior pastor at that time, fortunately, was the driving force. Totally committed to the concept, he encouraged and supported me in my initial attempts in casting a vision for caring communities through the small group venue. My experience ...

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