"The church that figures out how to bring old and young together at the table, Christian and non-Christian together in backyards, and the mature and the just-starting-out together in friendship will become a light to many in their community.

"Naturally, the churches or groups of churches that figure out how to do this well for hundreds, and even for thousands or tens of thousands, will be able to see communities and regions transformed." — Carey Nieuwhof, pastor and church strategist in Toronto, Canada

The cultural changes of the last 20 years are necessitating an adjustment in the Church’s approach to its mission. Throughout the West, thinkers like Pastor Nieuwhof are beginning to see that, if we respond wisely, there is actually a tremendous opportunity in the midst of these changes.

To take advantage of that opportunity, one of our aims as a local church is develop healthy, mission-minded small groups in every sphere of life in Fort Collins. Throughout August, we will be encouraging members of Summitview to prayerfully brainstorm who they might be called to reach and how they might join with others in small groups to do so.

Here are a few ideas to get the conversation started.

Neighborhoods. Four words: The Art of Neighboring.

Elementary schools. Step into any neighborhood school and ask the principal, “What could a small group of people do to help you this year?” The principal may look at you with mouth agape for a few seconds but, then, the ideas will start flowing. What if you actually jumped in? What if your small group moved the needle in a positive direction?

FoCo Cafe. This non-profit restaurant is one of the jewels of our city. In November, Jeff and Kathleen Baumgardner opened the cafe with this simple principle: “. . . that every member of the community deserves to eat good nutritional food regardless of their ability to pay. Restaurant patrons set their own prices for meals; those unable to pay with money volunteer their time and talents. More than 450 volunteers have logged more than 2,000 hours of service.”

In June, the FoCo Cafe received the Colorado Municipal League’s Municipal Heroes Award for its significant and positive impact on our community.

Small groups could unite to spend this year loving patrons and volunteering at the cafe.

Serve 6.8 Resource Center. Our friends at Serve 6.8 have recently opened a new facility which is a “collaborative effort of local churches to better care for the neighbors in our community who are facing financial hardship and crisis by providing food, clothing and resource navigation under one roof.”

Small groups could help the Resource Center in its mission by uniting to provide regular volunteer effort at the facility.

Children’s Ministry classrooms. What if your small group dedicated itself to bring life and the love for Jesus to one classroom in our Children’s Ministry this year? If that gets your creative juices flowing, contact Tim Carr at timcarr@summitview.com.

Sunday Morning Hospitality. Every Sunday, guests visit Summitview on Sunday with the desire to know Jesus better and to find a healthy community. Your small group could invest this year to make sure these guests are welcomed into our church. Interested? Contact Aaron Ritter at aaronritter@summitview.com.

Social spaces. This could include a wide variety of places and cultures, but here are a few possibilities to get you thinking:

• Coffee shops and restaurants. Imagine focusing your time out and about in Fort Collins on one specific place this year. I hear everyone loves the Matador. What if your time there was a more deliberate effort to represent Jesus? What if you could do that as a team? I call dibs on Cafe Vino.

• Athletic and special interest clubs/teams. Do you find yourself competing in or watching events with other Christians? This could be a place for mission.

• Fitness centers. You’re there multiple times a week. “Love Like Jesus” there and see what God might do.

If you have an idea for a small group and you would love help getting it off the ground, please fill out this brief small group application (the form might take a second to load). Starting this Sunday, there will also be a bulletin board in the Lobby for you to post your small group ideas. We will be having a small group fair on Sunday, August 30 and we would love to have your idea represented there. Please submit your small group idea by Friday, August 21.

As we look to a new year of small group life, let’s think creatively about how we can take advantage of the places and spaces we already frequent for the sake of the gospel. Our purpose as image bearers and ambassadors is more tangible and more exciting when all of life is mission. Who knows what relationships and opportunities lie ahead?