The “ABCDE” of Small Groups in the Cathedral (Part 2)
Last week, I shared about Alpha and Baptism/Confirmation. Please refer to it at cathedral.org.sg/abcde1 if you have missed it.
stands for our Connect Groups (CGs). We have currently over 90 CGs meeting in different homes in the city. Our CGs are given the freedom to decide when to meet, frequency and what materials to use. We only ask CG leaders to stay accountable and keep their pastors informed. These groups are “open” groups in that guests or visitors are welcome to join. These groups help to keep the Cathedral small and provide the context for spiritual friendship, mutual pastoral support and shared ministry. Most times, they will be gathered over Worship and the Word, with generous time given to makan and fellowship. One can say that CGs are the mainstay of the community life of SAC. A, B, D and E groups meet only for a season whereas CG stay together for a long time. It is not uncommon for CG members to be also involved in the other small groups for a season. Yet, a CG will remain a “home” where one has a steady sense of belonging.
stands for Discipleship Groups (DGs). It is a group that forms for a period of time, with a commitment to pursue studying of God’s Word together and sharing deeper about life and faith. It is a “closed” group and it may last from 6 months to two years. Currently, these groups are formed in an adhoc manner. Some Connect Groups function like DGs. Here, we also run the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Course (EHS) which has a more classical approach to helping Christians to grow. The small groups in EHS also provide the context for change and growth and normally will last for three months. In integrating more classical practices of Christian spirituality, the course can be misunderstood as being Roman Catholic or even heretical. Any keen student of Church history will know that there are practices that have grown with the church right from her early inception, such as meditation, silence and space. In fact the Anglican Church continues to keep some of these practices and there are streams which place more emphasis on it. The modern "post-Enlightenment“ church places a lot of emphasis on the mind, word and concepts, especially in evangelical circles. In recent years, many churches in Singapore have rediscovered some of these spiritual treasures. These practices were developed from the monastic movements in the early centuries (i.e. 2nd century onwards) as saints sought to live in holiness as the church. The monastic movement grew even more intensely as Christianity became more mainstream (i.e the Constantine era) and engulfed by wealth and the usual temptations that come with it. It is not surprising that Christians today are discovering these classical ways to practise their faith.
stands for equipping leaders. These are small groups formed for a focused purpose of mentoring or helping one to grow in his or her leadership responsibilities. Some of these mentoring relationships can be one on one. As a structured programme, we have left E to a more ad hoc approach. Developing leaders is something which I am very conscious of all the time, though I tend to lean more on organic rather than organised ways. A good environment and encouraging culture can encourage those with potential leadership gifts to surface. That said, a more extensive and intentional approach will definitely help SAC to build a stronger leadership base. This is something we need to approach with some urgency as the church is growing steadily. With Phase 2, there will be another season of growth. If we want to see SAC growing into a strong Christian community, good leaders who are able to pastor and disciple others will be important.
Small groups are critical to the life of the Cathedral. The modern city church has grown too large with emphases placed on large Worship Services which are run theatre-style with little community experiences. An ABDCE group is the backbone or spine of the Church. When they are working well, SAC will have the means to minister deeply and personally to each person joining us to seek after Christ. May we be found faithful in our dealings with every person entrusted to our community.