Faith Communities in Oz
Faith communities in the Kansas kingdom open up within communities of lost people. They are not necessarily lost because they are wicked and bad, but because they are not with the other sheep. In a new faith community, there are no strangers because everyone is new, so it is easier for people to get involved. A church planter forms a healthy core group; they choose a community of people who are not involved in other faith communities and reach out to include them. The core group gathers new people into small groups to practice spiritual disciplines, perhaps 12 groups of 12 people each. Worship events begin after the crowd is larger than 120 and the faith community is born, because a faith community consists of a worship event linked with a discipleship system for spiritual growth. Faith communities in Oz seem very different. They begin with small groups and largely remain as groups, sometimes as small as three people. Rather than growing to the point where they conduct their own worship event in their own church building, they participate in worship services elsewhere which others provide for them seven days a week and all hours of the day, even all night long six days a week in some countries. Frequently they will cooperate to charter buses and travel together to join thousands of others in praising God at a worship event. It is not their purpose or concern to start a worship service or build a church building of their own; they are linked to a worship event that someone else plans and provides. As each faith community is very small and flexible, it is very easy for a new healthy core group to form within another group and then go out to start another faith community. This happens all the time. In one year, a Kansas faith community may form twelve small groups to start a single worship event; in Oz, a dozen small faith communities will form in a year and then possibly double every year or two thereafter: 12 becomes 24, then 48, 96, 192 faith communities, etc. In this way dozens and dozens of Oz faith communities spring up, multiply and spread in a network throughout a city. They visit their neighbors, make friends, help out, pray for problems and invite non-Christians to their group meetings. All involved take turns in the leadership roles during the weekly meetings, including the non-Christians who don’t seem to mind taking their turn to chair the meeting or lead the prayers. The Kansas type of faith community results in what could be called a single new congregation. In Oz, as the only results are just more small communities that make disciples, they could be referred to as an expanding network or by a very old fashioned term: a connection, because the leaders are connected with each other. The true core group is the connection between all the leaders of all the small faith communities linked together in a giant network. Things seem really different in Oz, but it is still a faith community.