Common Grounds Unity
Common Grounds seeks the development of independent chapters of unity-minded followers of Jesus who support the following mission statement:
“Our mission is to promote and pray for unity within the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement through the development of local groups that gather routinely over a shared meal. We aspire "to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph 4:3) in recognition of Jesus' prayer that we "may all be one" (John 17:21).”
The following are four fundamentals of a Common Grounds chapter:
1. Quarterly meetings:
Each chapter should organize quarterly meetings with times, place, and agenda that best meets the needs of its members. Chapters may choose to schedule other events or gatherings as they see fit in service to the chapter needs or goals.
2. Key leader and Advisory Team:
It is recommended that each chapter have a key leader and also an advisory team comprised of two to five members. Leaders and advisors are encouraged to serve for at least a one-year term.
3. Shared Meal:
Shared meals are a fundamental characteristic of Common Grounds chapters. Devoting ourselves to the Word, breaking bread, fellowship, and prayer is fundamental to a healthy and unified brotherhood (Acts 2:42). If we break bread together, we are less likely to break heads together.
4. Regular Communication:
The Chapter Advisory Team/Leadership Team should participate in consistent communication with its members and its potential members for the purpose of advancing the principles and goals of both Common Grounds and the local chapter.
A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
Starting a Chapter
Below are the best practices that we have found helpful in starting a chapter. 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 Common Grounds website, Facebook Group, and any of the chapter formation materials. 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 chapter 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 email@example.com 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 group. 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 official meeting. 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.
CHAPTER DEVELOPMENT TEAM LEAD
Please meet Russell Kirkpatrick who is the Common Grounds Unity Chapter 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 or mentoring through the start up process and beyond. Please reach out to Russ at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about starting a chapter and/or to join a regular Zoom Meeting for CGU Chapter Leaders, future leaders, or those wishing to contribute in any way.