the physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a community, society, or organization.
When we think of “infrastructure,” we may think of things like roads, sidewalks, power lines, and pipes for water. These are the structures needed to bring people and power to an area, like your house. Without infrastructure, you would have to walk to a well to get your water, and walk through the field (or a desert) to get back to your house. You’d have no power to heat the water when you got back (unless you started a fire), and no way to watch Netflix with the kids. You might have to actually *gasp* spend non-screen-time with your kids.
It’s possible to operate your home with no infrastructure, but it’s not the most efficient or effective idea.
When it comes to small groups in our churches, infrastructure is incredibly important because it brings people and power to the ministry. It’s possible to operate without infrastructure, but it’s not efficient or effective. It’s possible for you, the small group ministry point person, to do everything it takes to provide relational support to the groups under your care. It’s possible. But it’s not efficient or effective.
Ecclesiastes 10:10 says,
“If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success” (NIV).
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Instead of simply grunting and huffing and puffing harder to care for groups, at Saddleback we recruit a team around us called Community Leaders (some churches call them “coaches”). They help us provide relational care for groups, connect people on the weekends, and walk alongside us at events and trainings. They’re the relational backbone of what we do. Small group hosts feel connected to Saddleback relationally because they have someone that cares for them, knows their name, and is helping guide them toward health.
The purpose of an infrastructure is to develop and sustain health. For us, our target is healthy individuals and groups that balance the five biblical purposes (that’s our church’s paradigm, built on the Great Commission and the Great Commandment). Your target may be different from ours, because your church’s paradigm is different, but whatever it is build your infrastructure to lead people toward it.
You may have the greatest idea, and greatest design for small groups in the history of the church. But you won’t be able to sustain them if your groups don’t feel relationally cared for and led. Sustaining health doesn’t happen on the heels of good ideas. It happens through consistency in relationship. And you, the small group point person, can’t provide adequate care by yourself!
So let’s do the hard and necessary work of building roads, sidewalks, and water lines. Much of it may go unnoticed. But the ministry God’s called you to lead will be sustainable and able to weather the storms that will undoubtedly come.