I have always been interested in the whispers I have heard within the Oklahoma Annual Conference about Craig Groeschel’s past connections to the United Methodist Church. I was so interested at one point that I attempted to contact him for an interview. For those of you who may not have heard of Craig Groeschel, he is the founding pastor of LifeChurch.tv, which is a church that began in Oklahoma and now has campuses throughout the United States.
One of the reasons I am interested in LifeChurch is because they seem to more effectively practice Wesleyan mutual support and accountability than the United Methodist Church does. I have a friend who was on staff at LifeChurch for awhile and I was fascinated to hear about how important of a role small groups (they call them Life Groups, I think) play for people involved in LifeChurch. My impression is that these groups are about more than going through a study, but they are about encouraging one another to move forward in their discipleship. At times I have wondered if the best example of a modern day equivalent of the early Methodist class meeting would be found not in a UM congregation, but at LifeChurch. (I want to admit this is simply speculation on my part, as I have never been to either a worship service – which they call an experience – or a Life Group.)
In any event, through conversations with my friend I have been very intrigued by the potential connection between LifeChurch’s effectiveness at sharing the gospel with unchurched people and their emphasis on Life Groups. This is one of the main things I wanted to ask Groeschel about. I was particularly curious if he had thoughts about whether something like Life Groups would work in the UMC today, or if – in his experience – he has seen institutional barriers to such a small group ministry.
This is a long winded way of saying that Craig Groeschel has written a series of blog posts this week about the UMC. In the first post he gives a glimpse of his own experience as a pastor in the UMC. While I am sure there is more to the story (I am sure Groeschel would freely admit this, as he does not at all suggest he is giving an exhausitve account of his experience in the UMC) Groeschel seems to me to try to talk about his experience with restraint and humility. I suspect United Methodists can learn much from Groeschel’s story… and I confess I still want to know more.
You can read Groeschel six part series on the UMC by following the links below: