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Church news, Tim Tseng update

Right-sizing

August 30, 2012

Greetings Canaan EM’ers and friends,

Could everyone bring a pair of sunglasses with you to worship service this Sunday? Why? It’s a surprise!! 

One thing about Canaan’s English ministry that people say they like is that we would make Goldilocks very happy. We are neither too big, nor too small. We are just right!

Yet, like many churches, few visitors “stick” with us. Now, I recognize that God is growing us. The influx of teens and new couples has been very encouraging. More and more of us are serving in a variety of ministry areas. From a strictly organizational perspective, I believe that we will reach a positive tipping point when our weekly attendance reaches 150. By then, we will have a large enough pool of leaders and volunteers to become a “dangerously” effective ministry to our community. But all this is just organizational theory.

Though it may boost Chris Liu’s and my egos to have many people come to hear us preach, we know very well that a large attendance is not the best measurement of spiritual vitality or a healthy faith community. Health and vitality happens among adults when we actively participate in a small community of believers that cares for us and that we care for. “Small groups” are such communities. They are neither too large nor too small. They are just the right size!

  • Just the right size for creating trustworthy friendships.
  • Just the right size for doing activities together.
  • Just the right size for sharing life together.

Beginning next week, Canaan English Ministry’s adults will launch new a small group emphasis. I hope that everyone will join a small group! I’ll share more details below and on Sunday during the second hour, but I’d like to respond to the cynics among us who may be thinking, “but we’ve done that before, and it didn’t really work.”

Ineffective Small Groups

There are a few reasons why small groups fail. Here are some:

1.Too focused on socializing. When a small group doesn’t want to seriously engage God’s word or hear God’s voice, it loses its purpose. People can have fun, but there is no sense of purpose or spiritual growth. Those who are seeking God in their lives will see this and leave.

2. Becomes an exclusive clique. One side effect of a small group that does nothing more than socialize is that it turns into a clique of friends who have no reason for bringing new people into the small group. After all, when a group gets too large, it become uncomfortable.

3. Does not renew and equip new leaders. Small groups without purpose and vision wind up burning out their leaders. The same people do the same things over and over again. And no one wants to help!

Covenant-based small groups

In order to avoid falling into the aforementioned traps, our small groups will be covenant-based. Participants in each small group will be asked to sign off on a mutually agreed upon covenant. The covenant is a set of guidelines to hold members accountable to God and each other. It is a way to measure spiritual growth and to ensure that small groups remain effective.

This fall, all of Canaan EM’s adult small groups will be covenant-based. We will still have large group life-stage fellowships (e.g., young adults, married couples, families), but these would meet only once or twice a quarter. Furthermore, we will begin to offer workshops and retreats targeted to each life-stage as they become available. So please pray for us as we enter this new phase in community!

As of this moment, small groups are being formed and coordinated by:

  • Tim and Frances Ang (Young Adults)
  • Eve Chang (Young Adults)
  • Nathaniel Tseng/Steve Pham (Multi-life-stages)
  • Ed and Christina Chen (Married Couples/Multi-life-stages)
  • Mike and Crystal Ling (Multi-life-stages)
  • William and Shirley Tai (Multi-life Couples)

The topics, meeting locations and frequency, and covenants will be determined soon. Please contact these coordinators directly or email me if you are interested in joining.

See you Sunday!

Peace,
Tim Tseng 曾 祥 雨 :: PhD
Pastor of English Ministries
Canaan Taiwanese Christian Church
———
timtseng.net

Walk Like Disciples! Sign up to help with worship service!
http://bit.ly/emworship12

P.S. Don’t forget to bring your sunglasses on Sunday!

* * *

FAQs about Small Groups

You can bring your questions and suggestions to our second hour session this Sunday. Here are some frequently asked questions that may be helpful:

1. Who can be a part of an Canaan EM adult small groups?

The small groups are open to all adults (college age and older). Some small groups will be multi-life-stage. Others will be comprised of people in the same life-stage. Though the small groups will be mostly comprised of Christians and CTCC members, we hope that they will also be places where non-believers and new-comers would feel welcome.

2. How large will the small groups be?

No larger than 12 adults and no less than 6 adults.

3. How often and how long will the small groups meet?

Each group should meet at least twice a month, depending on the group’s composition. Small groups will also follow Canaan’s quarterly calendar so each group has the option of renewing or disbanding at the end of the quarter. The fall quarter begins in September and concludes at the end of November. The winter quarter begins in December and concludes by the end of February. And so on.

4. Where will small groups meet?

This will be determined by the small group. Some may choose to meet at the church. Others may choose to meet at homes. It is okay to rotate locations.

5. What will the small groups do in their meetings?

Each small group will determine what topic or activity they wish to focus on (with guidance from Pastor Tim and the Fellowship Deacon). For example, some groups will do a bible study, others will do sermon reflections, and still others may focus on other topics. In addition to a study or activity, each small group will also devote time to life-sharing (confession), prayer, and mission. For example, some groups will volunteer in a soup kitchen, others will go on local missions, and others will organize activities for Canaan.

6. I want to be a small group leader. What can I expect?

First, our undying gratitude.

Second, expect your role to be centered on coordinating, delegating, communicating, and, sometimes, covenant enforcing. It would be wise to delegate various responsibilities.

Third, expect training and support. You will meet with Pastor Tim and/or the Fellowship Deacon monthly for this purpose.

Fourth, expect to be treated nicely! Dinners, special activities, and love will come your way!

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About Tim Tseng

I'm Pastor of English Ministry at Canaan Taiwanese Christian Church (San Jose, CA), independent scholar and theological educator.

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English Service 10 AM (Worship Hall 3)

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Enter through door 1 from rear parking lot.

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