Pastoral Letter About Community Groups
Dear Westside Family and Friends, As the church’s 10th Anniversary approaches, it is a great time to remember all the many ways God has met us. There is much for which we can and should give thanks. We hope you will mark your calendars for the evening of September 10th. We will celebrate God’s faithfulness in the first decade of our life together beginning 6pm at Monday Night Brewing.
Our commitment to simplicity and embracing limitations served us well in the early years as the church launched and took shape. An entrepreneurial, can-do attitude helped many organic ministries and relational connections form and grow. However, as the next 10 years peek over the horizon, we believe an even greater intentionality in needed now more than ever.
My own family’s two years here with Westside have been rich and rewarding. While there is no perfect church, our gathering of saints is a loving and committed community of Jesus Christ, and it shows in the way we worship the Lord, love one another and love our Westside neighbors. Yet, two areas of weakness stand out most prominently in my estimation. I would summarize these as care and connection. Let me clarify.
Westside is a caring church. The way the members care for one another is evidence of the gospel at work in our midst. You also have terrific elders. I have been working more closely with them over the last eight months and have seen firsthand their heart and desire to shepherd the flock God has given them. They truly love and care for those they shepherd. However, the church has grown to the point that our current structure of care is inadequate. Also, while many people have found community and made friends, the size of the church has made it hard for many others to make a relational connection and find meaningful, spiritual friendship.
When I first got to Westside, one of the first things I asked was, How do our people connect in community? It was terrific to hear about all the many organic and creative ways people clustered into community, but it wasn’t something you could clearly see. I believe the growth of the church has exacerbated the difficulty of caring for one another and connecting in relationship. So we are very excited to announce something that will help grow and deepen our life and ministry into the next decade: community groups.
Beginning a community group ministry is no small undertaking. Most of your ministry staff, along with an advisory group of members (all who have previous community group experience) have been working together to build a community group structure for our church. We know you will have questions about what this ministry will look like and what it means for the current setup of our life together. We have much more to share with you in the days and weeks ahead.
We believe a well-run community group ministry will become the most consistently available and widely accessible way for people to receive care and connection in our church. Community groups are a tried and true ministry structure in churches across the country. Community groups help make the pathway into church community clearer. And community groups help growing churches provide spiritual care for so many who have yet to discover spiritual friendship.
There is much more to come. Our goal is to launch our first community groups after the 10th anniversary celebration in late September. Between now and then, we will share clear and specific details with you about next steps before we launch. All inquiries, questions and feedback can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the summer winds down, let’s celebrate what God has done in our midst over the last 10 years and let’s ask him to make our next decade of life and ministry together even more fruitful and beautiful.
By his grace, and for his glory!
Chris Talley Associate Pastor