Life Groups: Bullets, then Cannonballs

June 11, 2021

At some point in the next few months, we’ll be firing a bullet. We’re running a pilot life group. And we’re wondering if you might want to pioneer it with us. 

But first, there have been many new initiatives in the last year, so let’s talk about it.

As a Leadership and Management undergrad in my early twenties, I was fascinated by what made organisations shine. I came across a fantastic book entitled Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos and Luck – Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins. The author had spent years studying the most successful organisations, and the book was the outcome. It’s almost a decade since I read it, and there’s one principle, in particular, that has stuck with me:

Fire bullets, then cannonballs.

Collins explains the idea with a picture:

Picture yourself at sea, a hostile ship bearing down on you. You have a limited amount of gunpowder. You take all your gunpowder and use it to fire a big cannonball. The cannonball flies out over the ocean…and misses the target, off by 40 degrees. You turn to your stockpile and discover that you’re out of gunpowder. You die. But suppose instead that when you see the ship bearing down, you take a little bit of gunpowder and fire a bullet. It misses by 40 degrees. You make another bullet and fire. It misses by 30 degrees. You make a third bullet and fire, missing by only 10 degrees. The next bullet hits—ping!—the hull of the oncoming ship. Now, you take all the remaining gunpowder and fire a big cannonball along the same line of sight, which sinks the enemy ship. You live.

Great by Choice by Jim Collons & Morten T. Hansen

Rather than going all-in with a project or initiative, Collins notes that great organisations will often calibrate their sights with low-cost, low-distraction, and low-risk endeavours to see what hits and see what misses. Focussing on the hits rather than the misses, they can then pour focus into the areas that will bring success. Fire bullets, then cannonballs.

 But wait a minute, we’re a church, not a business. Is this relevant?

 Absolutely…with a caveat.

The caveat is this: our priority is faithfully to follow the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit. There may be times when God calls us to something that seems foolish by worldly standards, and that’s ok. Remember, “God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise” (1 Cor. 1:27 NLT)

Maybe the bullet wildly misses the target, but God calls us to fire a cannonball anyway.  

However, as a church, we also want to be wise stewards of what God has given. We want to maximise our effectiveness for His Kingdom, so we’ve fired a lot of bullets in the last year. 

We’ve trialled websites and live streams. We’ve tested digital marketing and experimented with handing out flyers in the city. We’ve explored midweek video devotionals and blogs, weekly newsletters, Alpha courses and Friday morning Zoom prayer times. Some of these things have hit. Some have missed. 

But here’s the result: we’ve learnt a lot about serving our church family better. Some calibrated bullets have become cannonballs. Great! And the misses had a minimal impact on us. Also great! 

Ok, so that’s where we’ve been. Where are we going?

We’re firing a life group bullet. 

We want to trial a weekly small group of around 8-12 people. A core aspect of our time together will be bible study, but it won’t only be a Bible study. It’ll be a place where we “do life” together, build strong relationships, pray together, support one another, break bread together (Acts 2:42-47). We strongly believe that doing all those things enriches our time delving into the Scriptures together.

Here are a few key parameters:

  • Remember, this is a bullet, not a cannonball. This first pilot group may lead to more groups in the future, but it might not. It’s just an experiment, and we recognise that experiments don’t always work.

  • We want to build community, not cliques. If the life group is successful, our prayer is that it will eventually split and multiply to form another group. This process will, we hope, continue alongside the growth of our Sunday meetings. We may periodically mix up groups to open up opportunities to connect with new people.

  • Sharaya and I (Dave) will lead the first group. However, we’d ideally love someone (or a couple) to support the leading of the group. If that’s something you’re interested in, please let me know.

  • The start date is to be determined. With summer vacations looming and unknowns around COVID restrictions, we may wait until September to begin the group. However, we are open to starting sooner and even (temporarily) on Zoom if need be. This will very much depend on interest and availability.

  • If we run out of space, please be patient! In the unlikely but quite exciting event that there isn’t room for everyone to join, please know that there is no preferential treatment going on! We will fill the group on a first-come, first-served basis. Please bear with us while we run this pilot life group and figure out how we would like them to look as we move forward. If it’s a success, there will be more to follow! 

Now it’s over to you.

If you’d like to join the pilot life group or have any questions, comments or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you. Contact any of the elders or email me at davebetts@trinityreddeer.ca. We’re looking forward to firing this bullet and seeing if it turns into a cannonball!

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