When I speak of 234, I am not speaking of the prefix of a phone number in Weyers Cave. Rather, I am speaking of a model. Perhaps, I should write 2-3-4. This model is one of process and in a way of structure.
What is 2-3-4? It works like this: 2 people meet to discuss the things of life. This could be whatever time in whatever venue as long as it is conducive for the 2 to speak openly and honestly about life over time. The 2 become 3 as they welcome a new person to the group. The 3 become 4 as they again welcome someone to the group. When the group reaches 4, then the duration as 4 and multiplication is determined prayerfully by the group.
Multiplication? Yes, the 4 become two groups of 2 and the process starts over. Refer to the diagram below:
The group would be informal in that it would meet whenever and wherever. Formality would only come in the process as described by 2-3-4 and purpose (friendship, accountability, discipleship, etc.). If it were used for accountability as it is with Men's Ministry Book Study, then questions could be informal as determined by the group or formal, such as following Gary Yagel's Check 6 guideline.
The group could be coupled with a ministry as it is with Book Study. The larger group is formal, but over half the men have begun using 2-3-4 for the purpose of accountability. None have reached 4 yet, but at least one group has reached 3. Men in the Book Study do not have to participate in a group if they do not want to. Two guys meet in the morning when they run. One group meets in the evening. I am in a group that meets over the lunch hour once a week. However, there are men already meeting on their own, or there could be. Even if men aren't in a ministry, two friends or neighbors could start this process. And even ministries where there are men and women could apply this. Of course men would meet only with men and women would meet only with women.
This model isn't the only one out there, but it is an option. Prayerfully consider using this model with whatever ministry you are involved. Or prayerfully consider it for a friend, colleague, or neighbor and yourself. Lord-willing, this can be a tool to build community at church.
-Jamie Johnson, with thanks to brainstorming with Alvin Chao and inspiration from Phil Downer
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