Our communities are close knit groups of Christians within Hope Bible Church, overseen by one or more pastors. They learn together, pray together, fellowship together, and do care ministries together. They meet from 9:30-10:45 am on Sunday mornings.
As our congregation grows, our pastoral staff desires to keep the close relationships between elders and members that we have always had at Hope Bible Church. They desire that no member would be overlooked, whether for care needs, prayer requests or accountability, which can easily happen in a large church.
How are the communities organized?
Each adult member has been distributed into a community with a primary pastor designated as a leader of that community – with other leaders to help, too. The adult members of the church have been evenly divided into five communities, keeping small groups together and keeping the diversity of the church. Each community will have the support of leaders (deacons, small group leaders, ministry leaders) under the pastor.
When do the communities meet?
During the first hour of church, from 9:30-10:45 am. This time allows for snacks, fellowship, a song or two, prayers, Bible teaching, application, and discussion.
Why can’t we just be assigned a primary pastor and not have a community?
The pastor’s way of shepherding is primarily through his teaching. It would greatly compound his workload to ask him to teach 70 or more members individually or house to house or in small groups. The other avenues of instruction will be supplemental to his weekly teaching in the communities.
Is this community strategy sustainable as the church grows increasingly larger?
Yes, that is one of the strengths of this strategy; it can be used for a church with 500 people, like HBC, or 5,000 people. Grace Community Church in Los Angeles with 8000+ people uses it.
What can I do personally to help the new community strategy?
Make sure everyone in your community, especially the ones who are shy and not as involved, are talked to, loved, and encouraged to attend the first hour. Also, you can assist by volunteering to help with the care ministry needs of your community.