Common Grounds Unity
Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. Luke 24:35
Something amazing happens when we come together and break bread or share a cup of coffee! We have seen it time and again in our local CGU Gatherings. God's Spirit is uniting the various streams of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement and beyond - young and old, men and women, and multi-racial.
We are inviting you to join a local gathering - or to start a local gathering. You might think, "Oh my, this is a major undertaking!" Well, be assured it is not. In fact, it only takes two or three meeting on a quarterly basis. So, don't be shy, call or email someone and you are on your way. For more info contact Russ Kirkpatrick at firstname.lastname@example.org or see the below information and resources.
What Does it Look Like?
A CGU Gathering is simply a few unity-minded followers of Jesus deciding to gather and embrace the below mission statement.
“Jesus prayed that we "may all be one… that the world may believe” (John 17:21). We seek to fulfill His prayer with a focus on the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement by developing local groups that gather routinely over a shared meal, in order to maintain “the unity of the Spirit" (Eph. 4:3).”
So, here are a few best practices that we encourage CGU Gatherings to adopt:
Meet Quarterly and Share a Meal:
We encourage CGU Gatherings to meet quarterly and to share a meal (or at least a cup of coffee). Keep it casual, eat together, share a short message, and leave lots of time for discussion and sharing.
Something amazing happened to Emmaus road disciples when Jesus broke the break - they recognized Jesus (Luke 24:35)! 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).
A Leading Voice and Consistent Communication:
We believe unity is best fostered at the local level. Something special happens when we can consistently gather for a meal or a cup of coffee.
Developing a gathering requires a leading voice who can bringing people together. but, keep in mind, each gathering started with only a few. And, they have grown from there.
As a gathering grows we encourage developing a leadership team. Work it together, share your talents, and pray for God's Spirit to lead the way. Successful groups typically have a key leader and one or two advisors. Please be mindful to include members from the various streams of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement as this will help with connections, provide balance. and give opportunity to learn from one another.
Lastly, it is crucial to communicate consistently with participants and those who may be interested in participating. This can be done by email, phone, social media, etc. We have found that many will watch from a distance before getting more involved - do not be discouraged by this. Please encourage them to sign up for the weekly essays, or the Facebook group. Both links are on the about page. This will help them learn about CGU and our heart for unity. For more info contact Russ Kirkpatrick at email@example.com .
A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
Starting a Gathering
Below are the best practices that we have found helpful in starting a gathering. These are suggestions and not requirements. Each chapter is an independent group and its leadership may choose how to start, grow, and support the chapter. Our ask is that chapters share with us what has worked well and what has not so that we continually improve the below guide.
1. Work with the Spirit of God: God’s Spirit is inspiring a desire for unity among many – seek out unity minded people who are being moved by God's Spirit. Pray, continue to pray, and join with others in prayer.
2. Conversations: Begin conversations with key individuals expressing interest in forming a group. Answer questions and educate by pointing those interested to the Common Grounds website, the "Common Grounds Unity Podcast, the Facebook group, the YouTube channel, and any of the gatherings information. Explore and discuss interest levels, time commitments and/or restrictions, leadership strengths, and abilities.
3. Start a Shared Drive for Contacts: We have found that creating shared Google drive/folder for the gathering contacts is a valuable best practice. We recommend the use of the following Google Sheet template ( CLICK HERE ). Please copy the template to your drive and share the new contact sheet with firstname.lastname@example.org Use the contact sheet to communicate to members and potential members by email, Google calendar, Facebook events, or Evite.
4. Build Your Crowd: Use the following links to find Stone-Campbell Movement congregations and leaders. Use them to populate your shared contact list and to seek out interested individuals:
International Churches of Christ (ICOC): https://www.disciplestoday.org/find-us
Disciples of Christ (DOC): https://disciples.org/find-congregation/
5. Organize 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, conference call, or video conference. An invitation to a soft launch could be promoted to anyone interested by phone, email, or Facebook invitations.
6. Launch Initial Meeting: Organize the first gathering. The meeting can take place at a restaurant, church building, home, or another venue. We recommend a shared meal and therefore restaurants are great venues for meeting.
Places like Panera Bread can work well for meeting flow - participants purchase food and drink and come together. Some restaurants have more privacy but the confusion of ordering and such can stall and break the flow of the meeting.
Meetings scheduled for breakfast or lunch, during the weekdays, is typically better for ministry leaders. We suggest finding a restaurant with counter ordering or buffet style, with an area to meet. Waiters and food service tend to disrupt the meeting. Lunchtime meetings will likely provide more options for suitable places to meet. Chapters are free to decide how and where they will meet – these are only suggestions. Also, you may want to consider some evening events, in addition to the quarterly meetings, which will make it easier for those with daytime scheduling constraints.
GATHERING DEVELOPMENT TEAM LEAD
Please meet Russell Kirkpatrick who is the Common Grounds Unity Gathering Development Team Lead. Russ and his wife Carmen live in San Diego, CA where they are raising two precious children, a boy and a girl.
Russ is a founding member and servant leader of the San Diego CGU Chapter. Russ is passionate about unity and has been very effective in bringing brothers and sisters together from the different streams of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement.
We have attempted to provide a self-help guide in the above information. However, we understand the value of coaching through the start up process and beyond. Please reach out to Russ at email@example.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about joining a gathering or starting a new gathering.