Beth and I had the opportunity to go to her family reunion last weekend at the home of her brother. We had a great time visiting with relatives and friends although the attendance was not as large as in past years.

I was able to observe how people informally gathered into smaller groups for conversation. There were often 12 to 15 people in the living room/kitchen but I never saw a group larger than 4 engaging in conversation. After a while, a member of one of the groups would leave and join another group or the groups would disengage and new groups would assemble.

It reinforced for me that the smaller the group, the more time you can spend with other members of the group. It is also easier to participate in the conversation.

Using Ralph Neighbour’s formula in The Shepherd’s Guidebook we can calculate the following number of conversation channels:

2 People 2 Communication Channels
4 People 12 Communication Channels
8 People 56 Communication Channels
15 People 210 Communication Channels

When your cell group, small group, or simple church meets, the lines of communication are important. The larger the group becomes, the easier it is for members to be left out of the conversation. More passive members will move to the fringes and more talkative members will dominate. After 15 persons, the ability for people to know each other intimately is greatly diminished.


Grace and Peace,


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Filed under: Simple/Organic Church Practices

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