My name is Bruce Umpstead, and my wife, Gina, and I are small group ministry leaders of the Coffee Shop Connection (CSC, formerly the Coffee Shop Church), which is a network of small groups that serve as outreach opportunities for people seeking God who are skeptical about traditional venues like the local Christian church. The ministry's updated website is www.coffeeshopconnection.com.
The last twelve months have brought many changes. Most significant to the ministry was a hard-wrought decision to leave our home church when we moved our family north of Lansing, Michigan to DeWitt. We are now attending Northpointe Community Church (www.northpointecc.org) and have started looking for ways of integrating our small groups into its outreach effort.
Northpointe is a vibrant church of 800 regular attenders, growing explosively from a 2001 base of approximately 200. The two Sunday celebration services are contemporary, and the pastoral staff is focused on outreach, evangelism, and discipleship.
Small groups are essential in the church's execution of mission, boasting more than 50 traditional small groups. The connection and reinforcement of the sermon topics and the small group support materials have impressed me. The church also uses informal groups as "crowd breakers," forming new groups of newer attendees or funneling new attendees into existing groups. I participate weekly in a men's accountability group and, as a family, we recently started attending a bi-weekly neighborhood group after trying out two other groups. This has been great support in our effort to join the church while maintaining our existing ministry.
"Connection" or "Church"
Early on, the pastoral staff and I saw an immediate fit with Northpointe. It ...