One of the many great things about Smoke Rise Baptist Church is that we have a strong sense of self. Because of the amazing music that the choir shares each and every week, we know that worship is important. Because of the relationship building mission trips that our church family participates in year after year, we know that following the Great Commission is important. Because of the obvious care that our teachers pour into their lessons each week, we know that youth and children are important. Because of the strong Journeys series planned every semester, we know that Biblical studies are important. But how do we share that message? How do we reach out to the community around us in an effort to share all of the great things that Smoke Rise Baptist is doing?
When I was in college I read a book by Doug Fields about youth ministry. It was the sequel to the sequel of Rick Warren’s book a Purpose Driven Life. Rick and Doug had very successful ministries at Saddleback Church in California, and therefore their books were highly successful as well. At the time, it seemed like every pastor wanted to be “the next Saddleback Church.” Thankfully, growth experts have since learned that replicating someone else’s success does not in turn create success. Each congregation is different. They differ by location, strengths, needs, worship styles, and people. I, like many others of that time after reading that book, learned that this “manual for church growth” (or, in my case, youth ministry growth) needed to be read with very particular eyes to my space and context.
One item in this book that I found helpful then and feel it is still applicable today is Warren’s take on the concentric circles of the church. His theory is that the church is built of many concentric circles. He believes that it is the church’s job to move people from the outer circle (the Community) through a set of five different concentric circles to the very center circle, the core and the commissioned. The thought is that the center-most circle becomes so connected to the ministry of the church that they move out into the community to care for the world.
Over the next few months in the CrossTie, the Journey’s series, an upcoming meeting, we are going to look at the first three circles of Warren’s theory and how they pertain and connect to Smoke Rise Baptist. We will take a look at our assets and needs within the community, the crowd, and the congregation and what we are doing to bring them into our committed fellowship. We will do this through upcoming meetings, newsletter articles, and a spring Journeys conversations that I’ll lead April 11th – 25th. My hope is that this spring we will become stronger in our sense of self in the way we share our story with the community.