Greetings from Amsterdam,

This month I’d like to highlight a few things that have been going on within our church’s small group ministry. I’ll share about the focus my home group has been having lately, as well as give an update on the church-wide transition we’re going through this autumn.

Home Group

My co-leaders, Jen and Jurren, and I have prepared to use the last 4 months of 2009 to do our best to equip our home group with the necessary skills and leadership development in order that each individual may be confident in stepping into a subculture “community” in Amsterdam beginning in January.

One of the ways this has played itself out has been to teach “mini-seminars” based on materials from Equipping Ministries International. In early September, I led our home group in a 2 week study of Finding Your Gift Path, which is a wonderful seminar designed to help each individual to:

  • Identify your “spiritual DNA” — individual combination of talent, temperament, spiritual gifts, passion and life-shaping experiences. We are each a unique 1-of-a-kind creation.
  • Once you discover your spiritual DNA, you begin to think differently and to embrace your unique God-given design and destiny
  • This changes your actions, and you experience personal fulfillment and effective ministry
  • You break out of frustrating and unfulfilling roles that don’t match your gifts
  • Move toward confidence and competence in investing your time, talent, and treasure for God’s Kingdom

We spent time looking at our significance in God’s eyes, as well as the Biblical basis for our unique calling and giftedness. Finally, we evaluated what it looks like to experience ministry effectiveness and began the process of determining if we’re being fulfilled in our current involvement or are there other aspects of ministry that we should consider which may be better designed for who God made us to be.

Significance is being what we are by God’s grace. Ministry is doing. This is called servant hood.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. - Ephesians 2:10 NAS

Please pray that every person in my home group will understand clearly the plan God has designed for each of us to live out our calling and purpose. In addition, please pray that we’ll each find the right “community” to get involved with during this transition period in order to fully live out that calling!

Home group members: Eric, Marci, Renske, Nathalie, Jurren, Marcus, Stacey, Jen, Toby, Steven, Martijn and me.

Church Transition

The upcoming change was stimulated through a great deal of discussion which occurred over a period of 10 months by the church’s leadership. It was determined that we haven’t been as effective in spreading the love of Christ into different subcultures in the city as we would like to be as a church. Inviting people “in” to our church experience isn’t always as effective as one would think, so therefore being more “on mission” with an outward focus has been our heart for the past 2 years but not necessarily with the results we had hoped for.

For that reason, in addition to studying the Book of Luke, we are dedicating 4 months (September through December) to explore what subcultures people in our church are already a part of or would desire to be involved with and what it might look like to create new “communities” (to replace the home group model) in order to be more effective in growing God’s Kingdom.

Each individual within our home group ministry is in the process of determining which subculture he or she most desires to interact with in order to experience additional life overlap with others who have similar interests as well as those who are not in a church community in Amsterdam. Some examples of potential communities which have surfaced so far are:

  • Sporters
  • Writers
  • Social Justice
  • Musicians
  • Developing Families
  • Nature Lovers
  • Young Professionals
  • “Nomads” (internationals, foreigners, homeless)

To get a more in depth look at the variety of subcultures that have been stirring through our Sunday workshop times, you can check out Eric's blog article.

Throughout our church’s 6-7 year history, home groups have oftentimes functioned primarily as weekly bible studies with people who are either relationally or geographically connected but not necessarily in similar life circumstances (i.e. singles with young families, young professionals with students). Having diversity in the group makeup is not necessarily a bad mix, but in many cases we’re realizing that people don’t generally spend time “living life” together outside of that home group night. We believe that in the life overlap is where the influence of God’s love can pour out into the city more effectively.

Eric summed it up well, when he said:

Specifically (and perhaps most significantly), we've decided to transition from being a collection of “Home Groups” to being a collection of “Communities.” In a lot of ways, these are two different ways of getting at the same thing: creating smaller “spiritual families” who can know Jesus, become like Jesus, and make Jesus known in their day-to-day lives. Both involve building a sense of community and relational intimacy. Both involve studying the Bible together and encouraging each other towards greater spiritual growth… But there are also some differences. Home Groups have been general relational groupings; Communities are more united around a specific mission. Home Groups have been a random collection of people from various walks of life (sometimes the only common bond among the group being a love for Jesus and/or an interest in studying the Bible together with others); Communities are more grounded within and centered on a broader sub-culture within the city (geographic, ethnic, shared-interest, phase of life, etc.)...

Please pray for our church as we continue to make adjustments in the next few months, leading up to January 2010.

And, please pray for our Pastor, Eric, and the Servant Leadership Council as we continue to do our best in leading Amsterdam50 in this transition.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

God’s blessings,