How do I get Started?
A CGU Gathering is simply a few unity-minded followers of Jesus deciding to gather and embrace the following:
We encourage regular local meetings - quarterly meetings seem to work well. We encourage creating a rhythm without creating a burden on one another's schedules. People will make some meetings and miss others, and we think that is just fine. Meeting should be a blessing and a joy for those who choose to participate.
We also encourage sharing a meal (or at least a cup of coffee). We encourage a casual atmosphere where participants can eat together, share a short message, and leave lots of time for discussion and sharing.
Something amazing happened on the road to Emmaus! The disciples recognized Jesus among them as he broke the bread (Luke 24:35)! We believe something similar happens as we break bread with a Spirit of unity and love.
We are not seeking to minimize the importance of teaching, and yet, we believe relational unity can flourish when CGU Gatherings highlight "fellowship... breaking of bread and... prayer" (Acts 2:42).
Successful gatherings will require shepherding voices to call people to gather. Starting a gathering requires consistent communication, but it does not require a major time commitment or large amounts of preparation.
Jesus sent his disciples two by two. You can get started by simply finding another unity-minded follower of Jesus. Get together and share time over a cup of coffee - or any beverage. We encourage you to get started and watch God's Spirit work as you do so. If you need help connecting with someone in your area, please reach out to us - we are happy to help. Contact Russ Kirkpatrick at email@example.com .
A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
These are suggestions and not requirements. Gatherings are independent groups. CGU does not govern gatherings or the content or conversations at gatherings, CGU facilitates connection, communication, and educational support to encourage Christian unity among followers of Jesus. CGU is here to help, support, and provide resources.
1. Work with the Spirit of God: God’s Spirit is moving among his people, inspiring unity-minded Christians to pray as Jesus prayed for a spirit of unity to exist among his followers (John 17:21-23).
2. Get listed on the CGU Gatherings Map: Don't be shy! You can start as an Emerging Gathering contact. Some will be prompted to become gathering leaders, and others simply a point of contact. Both are equally important. We need Emerging Gathering to begin the connection process. Email John at John@commongroundsunity.org or Russ at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will get you listed on the map.
3. Conversations: Begin a conversation with those who are like-minded. We are not seeking to convince those who do not have the same heart for unity as we do - we are simply asking those who desire to "maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3) to gather and work together as brothers and sisters in Christ.
4. Communicate: We suggest that key leaders create a shared Google drive/folder for contacts. Here is an example Google Sheet template ( CLICK HERE ). Use the contact sheet to communicate by email, Google calendar, Facebook events, Evite., etc.
5. Build Your Crowd: This ministry began focused on serving the Stone-Campbell Movement and beyond. Thus many associated with CGU find membership within this heritage. And yet, the founders of this tradition held "that the Church of Christ upon earth is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one; consisting of all those in every place that profess their faith in Christ and obedience to him in all things according to the Scriptures." Therefore, we seek fellowship with those who belong to Jesus. Below are links to help contact within the Stone Campbell Movement.
International Churches of Christ (ICOC): https://www.disciplestoday.org/find-us
Disciples of Christ (DOC): https://disciples.org/find-congregation/
6. Do a soft launch meeting: A soft launch will likely involve key individuals and those most interested in forming a gathering. A soft launch could be in person, via Zoom, or otherwise. You may only have two or three, but that is just fine. Organize other meetings from that base and watch it grow.
Covid-19 has changed the world we live in, and some may prefer to meet digitally. Feel free to meet as you see fit.
If you meet in person, we have found restaurants to be good venues. Friends and family meet in restaurants. Meeting in church buildings takes more organization to make it excellent. Restaurants tend to create a create common ground and a casual environment.
We find restaurants where you order food and then sit down tend to create less confusion and interruptions. These venues are generally more time efficient and keep meetings flowing and on time.
Breakfast or lunch meetings during the weekdays are typically better for vocational ministry leaders - evenings and weekends are typically better for the average church member. You will need to decide the best time for your attendees and their schedules.
An Important Note: We are seeking to serve the church and its leaders. We are not seeking to start a movement, house churches, or do anything else to undermine existing church leadership. We believe in unity based on our common relationship with Jesus and others. Therefore we have often started with like-minded church leaders and then work outward toward the populous. We are seeking to be a healthy, positive, life-affirming resource for the future of the Lord's church and for our movement!
" I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." (Eph. 4:1-3)