The fourth ingredient of Flake’s Formula is to provide space. In their book Countdown, David Francis and Rick Howerton state this piece of the formula as determining a plan for providing space and resources. Any organization recognizes the need for space and resources. The issue is to determine a plan and then follow the plan. Space for group meetings rarely appears from nowhere.
Many people have a preference when it comes to space. Some people prefer the cozy comfort of a home. Others prefer their small group space in a church building with childcare and worship space close at hand. Some prefer a coffee shop, restaurant, or diner. Many churches leverage their space by offering two, three, and even four hours for small groups. The fact of the matter is that community can happen anywhere at any time. Yes, everyone has preferences. But preferences should never take priority over principles.
Notice Flake’s Formula says to provide the space. Not necessarily build it, just provide it.
As a young education minister, I served a church that was growing… rapidly! We were always on the lookout for additional space. We had groups meeting off campus; we had groups meeting on campus. At one time our church was holding Sunday School at 11 different locations at the same time. It was almost like finding Waldo! Two of those Sunday School locations were located over one mile from our church campus and another location was over five miles from the campus. We chartered city busses to help move our folks from the church campus where most of our children’s groups met to our off campus student and adult facilities. Our four kindergarten departments met off campus in a nearby weekday childcare facility. I was apologizing about our facilities to a new member who was attending a Sunday School group that met in an empty pad we were “borrowing” at a nearby shopping center. It had no electricity, heat, air, or plumbing and the only light came through the front glass wall. His words were priceless: “Bob, I would rather attend Sunday School in an unfinished store front with concrete floors and metal folding chairs and be where the Spirit is moving than go to a plush, air conditioned room that has all the amenities but no Spirit.”
Community can happen anywhere because the Spirit is everywhere.
Bob Mayfield is the Sunday School/Small Group specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO). Bob also has his own blog at bobmayfield.com. The BGCO also has an online training site with over 200 videos available at reconnectss.com.