I have been reading the book Pathways to Renewal: Practical Steps for Congregations by Daniel P. Smith an Mary K. Sellon. One of the elements of renewal that they identify as key is to have a germination group. They identify this as so important that they write that they have not seen a congregation renew itself without one of this. This also fits with my own experience and our work with the Possibility Thinkers Group.
So what is a germination group? Quite simply it is a group that brigs together people who are interested in having initial conversations (and I would add prayer) about different ways of being and doing church and living our our mission. The theory is that in any community there is usually a set way of functioning and of understanding your mission and way of life together. The problem is that is often very difficult for those within this system to think outside of horizon of those systems.
To over some this a space is needed where those who are open to looking beyond those horizons can be in conversation; where new insights from beyond the existing cultural system can be welcomed in; where dreaming can happen, new visions nurtured and ultimately where the Spirit of God can flow beyond the confines that we currently have for God. What is critical is that this initial group has no other task. Because if it does it will get bogged down in the deals of the task and loose its central role – dreaming and new visions.
This is very much the philosophy that has set the direction for our Possibility Thinkers Group synodically in our church. As a principle it also applies to a congregation. So if your congregation wants renewal, if you are going to start anywhere forming such a group would be one of the best places to start. If you want to learn more read Pathways to Renewal or as always feel free to contact me as well.