Organic Small Groups

Advice on creating a place where people naturally connect.

What do you mean by the phrase "organic community"?

What I hope to communicate is that there is a way people naturally connect with each other—that you don't have to coerce it or force it, that people are naturally doing it already.

In your book you seem to say that churches often use a "master plan" mindset instead of creating community organically. What does that look like, and why is it a bad idea?

First of all, let me say that what I mean by "master plan" in the book is a specific kind of master plan that's common in churches. I don't ever want to communicate that all master plans are bad. I mean, when I fly on an airplane, I hope it has been put together using some kind of a master plan—I really hope that that's true.

But when dealing with people's lives, what I hope is that we're thinking more as artists than assembly line workers. Almost everyone I meet wants to live their life in an artistic way. They want to be the artist of their life, or at least collaborate with God to be the artist of their life.

Our churches know this, and we genuinely want to help. So what we often do is give our people a paint-by-numbers kit—a way to ensure that when someone takes certain steps in the right order with the right colors in the right framework and stays within the lines, he or she will come out with a painting that looks how a "Christian" is supposed to look. That paint-by-numbers kit is what I refer to as a master plan—a structure way of accomplishing something that is very linear and very simplistic.

But in reality, life just doesn't happen that way. What people want is an empty canvas; they want us to show them all the different ways that ...

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