Instagram is a photo-sharing and social-networking website. It’s the hot new thing; or maybe it was the hot new thing last Tuesday but isn’t anymore; things change so fast it’s hard to keep track. But hot or not, Instagram isn’t really innovative. Walk With a Doc is innovative. A local doctor walks in the park every Saturday. Whoever wants to, joins him. There’s not much more to it.
The hot new social networking platform is dinner with friends
This approach has succeeded with a couple of long-running small groups I know of. “Small groups” are a big deal in Christian ministry right now. Those I know of that last for more than a year are like Walk with a Doc. As an example, a few members of the Methodist Church might eat dinner at Lois’s Cafe every Tuesday evening at six. Anyone who wants to join them is welcome. It’s not a 501(c) anything. There’s no list of members; no collection is taken; there’s rarely any overtly religious discussion.
Several loose ends:
- I’m not sure the preacher entirely approves of the small-group-that’s-about-nothing, but he rarely shows up and hasn’t tried to stop it.
- When I say dinner with friends is the hot new platform, I don’t mean we should use it to monetize or commodify our social relationships.
- Many small groups are short-lived. Longevity isn’t everything. If a few people get together to read Romans or paint someone’s house, and they do it and move on, that’s great.
- “Organic small groups are the hot new thing. Let’s start some, and have a big drive to get everyone to join one. Ask the nominating committee for the names of six people to be the organic small group leaders, and I’ll contact District Headquarters about a charter.” This approach does more harm than good.