The other day I was listening to a sermon by Chip Ingram in which he compared authentic community to an “ecosystem” (a link to the MP3 can be found at the bottom of this blog entry).

I like this comparison. For years I’ve taught that authentic Christian community is the “environment” or “culture” where people grow best. I used to use a Petri dish as an illustration of the fact that everything needs an environment or culture in which to grow. So do Christians. In the environment of Christian community, Christ followers receive all the nutrients they need to grow spiritually.

I think I like ecosystem better. Ecosystem suggests an interdependence upon one another in the environment, functioning together with each other for the betterment of the whole. It sounds a lot like Paul’s description of the body of Christ.

So I’m going with ecosystem now. And as we well know today, healthy growth only happens in a healthy ecosystem. Interestingly, even ecologists find it difficult to define a healthy ecosystem. (Check out this blog from the EPA, “What Is a Healthy Ecosystem?”)

Over the next several weeks I’ll share my thoughts on what makes a healthy ecosystem in a small group. I’ve already done a bunch of research on this, and I’ll share some of the results of the health assessments our leaders at Northeast Christian took last spring. I think this will help small group leaders to not only understand what makes a group healthy or unhealthy, but to begin to make healthier choices as they lead.

By the way, I’ll be posting at least weekly, so make sure you’re following!

Listen to MP3 of Chip Ingram’s sermon: “Balance Your Ecosystem”

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Michael Mack has been involved in small group ministry as a pastor, writer, trainer, and speaker for more than 25 years. He founded in 1995 and started Small Group Leadership in 2012. He became the 12th editor of Christian Standard magazine in 2017 and continues to speak in churches about small groups, discipleship, and leadership. He lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (just outside Louisville), with his wife Heidi. They have four young adult children. Michael enjoys mountain and road biking with a group of friends. See the "About Michael Mack" page under About Us for more about him.

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One Comment

  1. Dan

    November 2, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    This will be a great topic for a blog series. I'll be watching with anticipation!
    Dan Lentz


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