(A word of explanation: Much of my work at Central over the last several years has focused on "pastorates," which are mid-sized groups of 25-35 people of all ages meeting together in homes for worship, hearing God's word, sharing communion, and vibrant fellowship. Pastorates have become a core practice for us at Central Lutheran Church, imitating the model developed at Holy Trinity Brompton in London. This series of posts is taken from the rough draft of a manuscript on pastorates I'm writing. My goal is to encourage and enable other churches to consider whether pastorates might be a good fit for them. This is #12 in a series. Eventually these posts will all be shared on this page when the manuscript is finished.)
Size, Schedule, and Newcomers
I often refer to pastorates as “mid-sized” groups to distinguish them from the “small” groups people are so familiar with. However, a pastorate is not primarily defined by its size. A group of 30 people meeting in a home may not be a pastorate if they function more or less like a small group. A group of a dozen people might be a strong pastorate if they function like one.
Scheduling is another way pastorates function differently than small groups. As noted above, pastorates meet twice each month for a three-month term, then take a month off (April, August, and December). Because pastorates are significantly different from small groups, it’s wise to encourage people to form their own cell groups to complement the life of the pastorate. At Central we call these cell groups D4D groups (Designed For Discipleship). They are groups of two to five men or women -- groups are gender specific. They are not expected to multiply, but rather to grow deep together into God’s word and into one another’s lives over time. Most often they meet twice each month, ideally on the “off” week when the pastorate is not meeting. D4D’s function most often as closed groups, not inviting newcomers in. As people observe D4D’s and want their own, they’re encouraged and supported to form new groups.