The Blessing Bunch
So just what does it take to begin changing a “culture?” Think about going to church. Now think about going to a Sunday School Class. Now think about class members walking in each Sunday morning… and the temperature in the room is 27 degrees. That's cold, even if you live in Michigan. You see your breath when you're standing around. You feel the cold – even if you dressed up to deal with it.
That was what Mark, the new leader of a singles Sunday morning class, felt he was experiencing every Sunday. He’s only been a “pastor” at the church a few months. He’d been in the Army and then worked his way through seminary. This was his first pastor gig as the Young Adult minister – and he felt like he was failing.
There were plenty of people coming to his class. He had almost 50 bodies showing up. This was an older church where gray hair way outnumbered young adults. But it wasn’t the numbers. It was the atmosphere. The culture. It was cold. Uninviting. It wasn’t just that people weren’t building deep relationships. They weren’t even scratching the surface.
So Mark decided to do a four week series on The Blessing. Which seemed to go well… but it was hard to tell. They still all looked frozen. The table discussion time was stiff. Maybe on a good Sunday moving to 38 degrees… but still way too cold for anything to really grow or bloom.
Mark wrote me two years into his ministry. He said when things were in the "twenties" relationally, he decided to create a secret “Blessing Bunch.” He set up a special meeting. A lunch actually so that he was pretty sure he’d have perfect attendance, and did. There he asked three young men and three young women who seemed like they were beginning to “get it” in terms of connection, if they’d go four more week on the Blessing. Just those six young adults, and he and his wife. To dig deeper. To really look at those five elements of the Blessing.
By the second week, they were actually talking - close to sharing. By the fourth week, they were a team. And those eight people decided they’d “choose” – as the “Blessing Bunch” - to start looking for ways every Sunday to “choose” to Bless the other people in the class.
After a few weeks, they decided they needed to add a special focus to several people in the class who seemed to particularly need one or more elements of the blessing. They’d “double down” on them. With appropriate meaningful touch. Spoken words. Attaching high value. Picturing a special future. Exhibiting genuine commitment – even when he person they were choosing to encourage acted as warm as an ice cube in return.
But even “ice cubes” can't stay frozen when the temperature goes up. And as they kept looking for ways to Bless others, and as class started thawing, there was a season change in class. Like up in the 60’s and some Sundays, they'd hit a low 70. (Which, after 27 degrees seemed like an August summer).
They had prayer, focused encouragement, and the 5 elements of the Blessing as their model for connecting. And they changed a culture. Which changed a class. Which changed class members lives. Which spread into the congregation.
And it's something that simple - yet that biblically powerful - that can start to bring changes in the "atmosphere" in your church as well. Just grab a few “bright spots” that “get it" - and warm them up with the Blessing. They may not really understand the whole connection thing. But they begin to get and give the Blessing. And watch how that "Blessing Bunch" and those 5 simple tools from scripture start turning up God’s warmth and unconditional love and acceptance in your small group, or class, or church.
Posted on Sat, March 2, 2013
by John Trent filed under