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Friends

Small Church

This project began as Jesus-centering therapy. And along the way, a growing number of people have found some help, hope, and healing by joining together on this journey. So this page is here to help us find each other. 

Over this past year my family and I have been invited to join a number of small communities of grace, where people deeply long for true relationship with one another. These small gatherings, made up of pastors, parishioners, therapists, friends and family together, quietly engage in spiritual truth-seeking, very much in the spirit of Nicodemus coming to Jesus as night. I did not start nor do I lead any of these groups, but as invited guests, my family and I have sensed the power in their earnest, genuine, and gracious fellowship. They are places where confession and repentance feel welcome, and where forgiveness and encouragement are abundant. I have rarely, if ever, experienced anything quite like it. [As an update, I have since been invited by the leaders of one small church to facilitate the discussion part of the meeting and I am grateful to serve in this way too.]

As I was writing my own therapeutic studies on the Sermon on the Mount, these groups were focusing on what discipleship to Jesus looks like in our fragmented world filled with malicious misinformation and graceless online outrage. Eventually I was invited by these groups to share my reflections on Jesus' teachings and something new started to take shape. 

The spirituality of Jesus is thoroughly relational. We are made in the image of a God who is Community-In-Unity, so it is in relationships that we best discover and express our true selves. It is natural for the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit to move us toward others, undoing the divisiveness of sin.

 

Sin separates, love restores.

 

When Jesus moves, love happens, which means old relationships are strengthened and new relationships form. So we shouldn't be surprised that, as we draw closer to Jesus, relationships develop. 

 

The 1820 studies are personal expressions of repentance and renewal and a hunger to know more of God through Jesus. At the same time, more people are expressing the deep desire for gentle, authentic, meaningful, and merciful "coal fire fellowship", and these personal studies are becoming increasingly relational. More "small church" groups have started gathering, in person and online, to learn and love and live together, using the 1820 studies for personal reflection and group discussion. 

We are calling these healing groups "small church", since the word "church" doesn't mean a religious or charitable institution, but an organic gathering of people with a shared purpose. And they are small, as in "wherever two or three are gathered" small (Matthew 18:20).

If you and/or someone you know are feeling detached, like a coal away from the fire, feel free share this site with others and/or get in touch.

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What is "Small Church"?

In Matthew 18:20, Jesus tells his disciples: “Wherever two or three gather in my name, I am there in the middle with them.” In short, "1820" is code for community, with Jesus in the middle of it all. (For more on this verse, see our first devotional study.) 
 

Though God uses all sizes and styles of church, today many people struggle to fit into larger traditional churches where all the people face the same direction. The earliest churches were circle churches: participatory gatherings where everyone came ready to give and receive, to learn and to contribute (see 1 Corinthians 12-14 and 1 Peter 4:8-11). 
 

A small church is a circle church: gatherings of believers small enough to be conversational. A small church might be an expression of a larger traditional church or a smaller house church. It could be a dozen friends meeting in a home or three friends grabbing beers at a local pub or a handful of new friends meeting regularly online. Whatever the format, we offer our 1820 material to be used freely, in individual study and even better in group discussion.  

The 1820 material is researched and written first by one person, then submitted to several Small Churches and accountability partners for feedback, revision, and added input. In the end, this is both an individual's labour and a team effort. 

 

May you experience true "coal fire fellowship".
 

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How to Start a Small Church

STEP 1: Invite a friend or two (or more) to join you on this journey. You can invite as many people as still allows you to be conversational when you all get together. (And, if a group grows too large - say, twenty people in a house church - you can always break up into smaller sub-groups for discussion.)
 

STEP 2: Agree on a regular time and format to talk together. These times could be once a week or once a month or somewhere in between – in person, online, or on the phone. It’s up to you. 
 

STEP 3: Decide between two approaches: 

 

A. Prep for each conversation by reading the study notes and listed Bible passages ahead of time (one hour) then meet to discuss (one hour). 


B. Just read through it all and discuss when you are together (two hours). 
 

STEP 4: If you are currently part of a larger church, try not to compete or confuse. Make sure whatever you organize contributes to the unity and growth of your church. If you’re not a part of a larger church, you may find Small Church becomes your full church experience, or you may want to partner it with involvement in a larger local church.
 

STEP 5: Last but not least, stay connected! Sign up for updates so you never miss a new post. And let us know you’re out there by commenting on our blog posts. And do write us to share your ideas, encouragement, concerns, or questions at any time. We are growing and developing and always eager to hear your input. 
 

That’s it, that’s all, there ain’t no more. Small Church is simple church.

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Current Small Church Groups

In this area, most Small Church groups are closed to newcomers. But...

 

The Monday night group in Burlington is open and ready to welcome you. We start at 7:30 pm, though people arrive a few minutes before that.

 

Whether you would like to attend in person or online, this is a blended in person and online group and would be happy to have you join. 

Get in touch for details. 

Also, as we figure out how to maximize this site's capacity, we'll be adding group discussion capabilities here and on the mobile app. This is new and we're all learning together. Keep checking back for more information. For now, feel free to try this link and see if you can join our online discussion group. 

If you have any ideas, observations, or questions, please get in touch

 

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