From the first time that I read Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam I have had the desire, the craving to find ways for people to get connected to real, authentic Christian community. To create a culture where people could experience three critical connections. They could get connected first and foremost to Christ by encountering the life transforming, soul enriching power of the Gospel. Then help them get connected to Christian community, a place where they could find a group of people who will hold them up to live at a higher level, hold them together when their life falls apart, and hold them accountable to be the person God has called them to be. Finally, to help them get connected to their unique, divine calling. The place where what they do and who they are come together with the power of God to make a difference in the world.
While we have been implementing Connection Groups at St. Paul UMC, Rocky Mount, I have also been looking toward the future. The eventual goal is to make sure that we are forming focused and intentional missional communities that are the next phase of our Connection Groups. For more about Missional Communities check out Launching Missional Communities here. It all centers on creating a self-replicating discipleship culture. The most recent book I'm reading on that topic is Mike Breen and Steve Cockram's new book Building a Discipling Culture.
Take a look at this video, it does a great job explaining our need to create a culture of authentic community, the only real answer to our epidemic of isolation: