In the fall of 2009, after reading Richard Stearns’ “The Hole In Our Gospel”, my friends Wes Howard and Ben Turner felt compelled to gather a group of 20/30-somethings together around the idea of being intentionally missional and living out the Gospel by actively serving the needs of others. That group started with 3 people last fall and currently stands at just over 140 who are regular/semi-regular attenders. I’ve skipped a lot of details for the sake of brevity, but suffice it to say something very unique has been happening in what we have affectionately called our “not so small” community group at Cross Point Church here in Nashville. Essentially, people keep coming and keep getting connected.
The mission statement the group adopted earlier this year is:
“We are imperfect people, living inside our design, building enduring relationships with each other,actively serving the needs of others, and committing to grow deeper in love and faith with Christ.”
Within those 140+ people, there are 8 small groups that are made up of folks in their early-20’s to mid-30’s looking for an opportunity to connect and serve and to experience community in a whole new way. It is nothing short of amazing. This particular model is quite the anomaly as far as “small groups” go and was NOT by design, but very much just “happened” somewhere along the last several months.
For the past 7-8 months, our group has been officially called the “young professionals”, a somewhat nebulous name that wasn’t very clear as to exactly who we are as a group. Several weeks ago, Wes, Ben and I began talking about the idea of giving the group an actual name that would help to define its actual identity and point to who we were. We landed on the name “Stretch”. Here’s why…
A few of the definitions of the word ‘stretch’ are:
make great demands on the capacity or resources of
cause to make maximum use of talents or abilities
straighten or extend one’s body or a part of one’s body to it’s full length
The cool thing is, those things are happening within our group in a variety of ways, and it’s incredible to see.
Here’s what Stretch means to us as a group:
It speaks to our age group being very much in the “stretch” between life phases.
It points to the opportunity for your life be stretched and changed through service and community like never before.
It speaks to the growth that happens in the space between moving FROM one thing, TO another.
It says our group is not just the cool Sunday night hang, but something that will deepen your life and put new demands on your capacity for community, faith and service.
It speaks to creating capacity for your life in the “space between”
So last night marked a milestone and the beginning of a new chapter for our “not so small” community group as we officially renamed the group “Stretch”, cast the vision for what it meant, unveiled our new logo and showed this video we put together to communicate the concept even more.
It is such an honor to do life and serve next to Wes and Ben in co-leading this incredible group of people. God has done amazing things through us and every single bit of it has been in spite of us and not because of any of us, but because He has a greater purpose and agenda than any of us could accomplish on our own. The folks in the group are incredible and are so hungry to build deep community and be the hands and feet of Christ.
In his message yesterday, Pete Wilson talked about how the Gospel challenges us to be not just recipients of grace, but agents of grace, and that the Gospel does not call for reflection, but rather action. I was so excited to hear him say those things yesterday because they are so essential to the core of our DNA as “Stretch”, and should also be to the core DNA of the heart of everyone who calls themselves a follower of Christ.
I will be talking more about Stretch in the coming weeks and months, but I wanted to take a moment to share this with you all here on my blog. I hope the “Stretch” concept resonates with you and challenges you to consider ways in your own life that you could stretch and create capacity for God to work in new and greater ways in your life. You’ll never be the same.
How does the Stretch concept apply to your life right now?