We’ve talked about the challenge of multiplication and how sending seems more natural. What if, in addition to groups sending others to start new groups, those connected groups formed a network, or a hub, that got together periodically? It could be for a time of worship, for a party, or for service. Our group meets on Sunday nights. What if the fourth Sunday of every month, our hub got together at a restaurant or at the church?
In The Search to Belong, (more info here, his site here), Joseph Myers talks about four “spaces” where we find belonging: public, social, personal, and intimate. The public sphere can be compared to the belonging one feels at a sporting game among people he or she has never met yet shares an affinity with.
Social belonging occurs when one shares the “small talk” in relationships. This belonging includes that wide realm of people you may know, but don’t know well. You have not been in their home, and that is all right. You would still consider yourselves friends. Personal relationships are with those you’d consider your friends. You do things together. You have been to each other’s houses. You’re close.
Finally, that intimate sphere consists of those few people who know you well – really well. These are the people who know the dirt in your life and love you anyway. They have seen your “naked” self. Myers’ point is that the church has often emphasized the big group and the small group, but has ignored the many types of valid ways people connect with others.
I believe small groups best fit in that “personal” category. They’re your friends. Sometimes it goes to intimate, but most of the time, intimate happens in a one-on-one relationship, not a one-on-ten. Hubs allow a natural place for those “social” connections to happen, while allowing groups that have “sent” others to maintain “personal” connections with friends they may not see otherwise (maybe they’ll even invite them over!).
These are just ideas we’re thinking through. We want to keep things simple. Having hubs adds another level of complexity to the system, which can be dangerous. But it also provides a safe way to maintain relationships. Ideally, relationships are naturally spilling out beyond the meetings, but this mid-level gathering provides a place for those connections to happen. It also gives us leaders a place to invite a few new folks who might fit with a few of the groups. They can hang out at a hub meeting, see if they connect with some people, and then join one of the small groups the next week.
A huge advantage of hubs within a larger church system is that they can look different for different groups of small groups. One hub might choose to have a time of worship – especially if there’s someone in one of their groups who’s gifted at leading worship. Another might feel that’s a good time for some teaching. Some may just want a social time, while others may want to adopt a regular service project. Hubs can be a regular time for a wider swath of people to connect in a laid-back environment.
So that’s where we’re headed. Any thoughts?