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!