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Unlikely Leadership Lessons from… The Circus!

"And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts." Acts 2:46 ESV

I will never be too old to go to the Circus. I was so excited to take my boyjoys for the first time at the start of their Spring Break. We cheered, ate kettle corn, licked dippin dots, laughed, covered our eyes, held our breath and had the best time!

So much good is in the circus. (I won’t do a critique of animals being used in the circus, though I was glad to see that larger animals, like elephants are no longer part of the acts. While I understand and respect the decision, I missed their contribution).

For the next few posts, I’ll share leadership lessons from the circus. The first one is the circus is made up of small acts who all take a bow at the end.

Each ring/circle in the circus features one act; now sometimes it was one person, two, five or more. At the end of the circus, however, every act comes together for the finale (a big celebration).

So do you hear it? Small groups? Worship?

This is an invitation for churches to be more like the circus. For the church to be made up of small groups who come together for a grand celebration at the end/beginning of the week.

Are you a church of small groups or a church with small groups?

When I first heard this statement I thought small words, big differences.

Only one of the seven churches I've served has been a church of groups. And that’s the church I’m serving right now The Gathering.

What does that mean?

Well, it means that in all my other congregations, groups were sometimes important, nice to have, in conflict with Sunday school or some variation of all of these. Groups were a ministry rather than an identity (dna) and strategy.

However, in every church I’ve served I launched or re-launched a group ministry. Some still have those groups today. But now serving in a place that places a high value on groups as THE primary way people experience transformation and growth is refreshing.

Benefits of being a church of small groups:

  1. Repeated messaging. Join a group. We encourage people to worship and join a group. At specific times of the year there is an all-church concentration on groups. Also as it fits in sermons and next steps it’s mentioned all year long.

  2. Groups are both means and ends and everything in between. Grow leaders. Identify and verbalize stories of transformation - ask a group. Get feedback on sermon series ideas, vision, or any ideas. Ideally, groups serve together identifying missions they’re passionate about and/or serving through church-sponsored opportunities.

  3. The path begins and ends with groups. Try a short term group, be in a group, lead a group, coach leaders, lead coaches, facilitate training and establish culture.

We’re still living into the power of groups, I feel blessed to be serving in my dream role. I commit to sharing everything I’m learning.


Action Brings Clarity

  • Do something fun! New insights or ways to view ministry, parenting, etc.. can all happen when we change up our environments - even the circus can inspire you.

  • Take a few notes on whether you’re a church with or of groups.

  • What’s the next right step for groups at your church?


© Charity Goodwin, 2023.



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