“Ah yeah, clusters … … … What are those?”
That was my response to my friend Doug’s email earlier this summer. He had read the strategy document I was developing for our church start up. After reading it, he thought that it was similar to a movement of churches in the UK that are shaping themselves around mid-sized groups called Clusters. Doug recommended that I read Clusters: Creative Mid-sized Missional Communities, by Mike Breen and Bob Hopkins. I did.
The ideas they offer could be helpful for many American church leaders. In the conversations I’ve been in with other church leaders, there is wide recognition that there is a gap in churches between small groups and larger worship gatherings. But it needs to be understood that Clusters are more than just medium sized groups to fit in the gap. In the examples they offer throughout the book, Clusters are becoming the primary expression of mission and community for the churches that have structured around them. Clusters are not a new program to launch, but a reimagined ecclesiology. Most helpful, I think, is the fact that these clusters can be adapted by new churches and large established churches alike.
The USA is a few decades behind the post-Christian shift that is happening elsewhere in the world — in places like Europe and Australia — but it is happening here too. We need to learn what we can from church leaders in these parts of the world and I am intrigued by the ways these churches are finding new life in missional expression.