Journeyman Project Dispatches from the Life of Patrick Fowler: Christianity Explored


Church is more than Sunday…

Geoff Surratt recently commented on the power of Biblical community, and I wanted to pass along some of his words,

I think the mistake we make as church planters is that we try to plant a service. We hire a band, we rent a school and we put on a show. There’s nothing evil or wrong about the show, but there is no one in your city sitting at home on Sunday morning thinking, “Man, I wish there were a really good show down at the middle school cafetorium. If there were, I’d be there. And I’d give my life to Jesus if the show were awesome.”

There are, however, a lot of people in your city thinking, “Man, I wish I could find community. Life is lonely and I’d love to feel connected. If I could belong, feel like I’m a valuable part of a team I’d consider giving my life to Jesus.” They wouldn’t express it that way, but that is the longing at the bottom of their hearts. They aren’t finding that community at work, or on Facebook or at the gym. If they show up for your weekend show its only because they think they might find community.

In my heart, as I serve at oneChurch, this is what I hope for. Leaders who are so transformed by their connections in group that they continue to build more and more groups until they impact the entire city of Clarksville and far beyond. An impact that has nothing to do with buildings, parking spaces, or a highly planned 90 minute event.

How about you, what do you think?

Read more from Geoff Surratt at


Small Group Leadership – Class Materials

"We should not think of our fellowship with other Christians as a spiritual luxury, and optional addition to the exercises of private devotions. Fellowship is one of the great words of the New Testament: it denotes something that is vital to a Christian’s spiritual health, and central to the Church’s true life…The church will flourish and Christians will be strong only when there is fellowship." ~ J.I. Packer

"It is both foolish and wicked to suppose that we will make much progress in sanctification if we isolate ourselves from the visible church. Indeed, it is commonplace to hear people declare that they don’t need to unite with a church to be a Christian. They claim that their devotion is personal and private, not institutional or corporate. This is not the testimony of the great saints of history, it is the confession of fools." ~ R.C. Sproul

I have a passion to equip and encourage small group leadership in the church.

It seems that every church I hear about has adopted a small group strategy--so there are a lot of people doing small groups--but I fear that most of them are not doing small groups WELL. Small groups can be a bad strategy if they are not done well. Think about it for a moment, and I'm sure you will agree. Most people don't leave the church because of the sermons, the worship, or the children's program...they leave the church because someone hurt them, violated their trust, or even "stabbed them in the back." And where does that hurt come from? Not from Sunday morning, but from small group environments.

In response to the need of churches everywhere, I took last summer to refine a lot of my thoughts on group leadership, to read some more books on the subject, and to package a class into notes and a PowerPoint presentation. This past Saturday, I taught the class through DTS's Lay Institute for the second time. Now that these notes have been tested and received a good response, I want to pass them along to you as well. PLEASE--use these! I don't want credit or fame, I just want to build up the body of Christ...and I hope you find these notes to be a key resource in your own life and ministry, to that end.

Let me leave you with one other quote that I believe sums up my thoughts on Small Groups.

There is no passage in the Bible that says, ‘You must have a small group for people to grow in their faith.’ Instead, what is in the Bible is an understanding, from beginning to end, that people need an authentic, intimate community in which to grow.

Click here for the Word Document of the notes

Click here for the PDF version of the notes

Click here for the Power Point Presentation


Willow Creek’s REVEAL study: Revisited

It seems a bit odd to be revisiting a blog topic from a year ago, but I still hear the same topic being used completely out of context by Christians after all this time. Worse yet, the people who are now misrepresenting the news are seminary professors and theology students.

It seems there is a deep-seated hatred of the "seeker-sensitive" church by many who would consider themselves "better" Christians. They portray the strategy of tailoring the Sunday morning worship events of the church toward non-Christians as being manipulative, unspiritual, and incorrectly representing the gospel message by not clearly portraying "fire and brimstone" to hell-bound sinners.

Too often, I believe they fail to realize the most people come to faith because God is shown in light of the love and kindness He has extended to sinful men. They fail to realized that the "seeker-sensitive" model is not about watering down the gospel, but about communicating the gospel in language that is familiar to non-Christians, and avoiding words that do not hold meaning for them, like: "sin, perpituation, redemption, etc."

In my classes, Willow Creek church is characterized as having apologizing publically for pushing an incorrect strategy in their emphasis on seeker-sensitivity and small groups. This is entirely incorrect.

The Reveal study ( is another example of how Willow Creek is using the best of culture and academics to refine it’s mission to reach lost people. It does not in any way apologize for the major thrusts of Willow Creek’s past strategy toward being Seeker Sensitive, or promoting small groups. It instead shows that these strategies have been extremely successful in reaching the non-Christians and growing Christians of their church and the churches of the Willow Creek Association. What it apologizes for is its failure to lead people successfully through the stages of maturing Christian growth. It shows that they have failed to teach spiritual disciplines, or to show maturing Christians that they should stop looking to the church programming as the next step in their spiritual journey. Their failure is not a culture adoption problem at all…in fact, cultural adoption is still the key to much of their success in reaching new generations moving into the Chicago area. Their failure is keeping “older” believers motivated to grow in Christ, but not providing the most effective means for them to pursue that growth.

See my original post, here:


Small Groups are not Biblical…

Small Groups are not Biblical!
Let's make one thing clear, for certain: Small groups and house churches are not "biblical". The church was started with meetings in homes, I gladly concede that point. But the church did not meet in homes for any command of scripture, or even any urging of the disciples. More likely, since the Jews and Romans began killing Christians for their beliefs, the church met privately to keep themselves out of the line of persecution, and because they did not have synagogues or other buildings they could use. More importantly, the size of their movement was not overwhelming, as it would later become when persecution was lifted.