Bishop King announces plan for 900 CLUs by 2013
By Kara Witherow, Editor
We all need love.
That was Bishop James King’s message to each United Methodist who attended one of nine Bishop’s Hours held this fall throughout the South Georgia Conference.
“We all need love,” he said. “We not only need love as a one-time experience, we need Christlike love as an ongoing experience.”
To help foster and spread this love, Bishop King has set a goal of having 900 Christlike Love Units (CLUs) in the Conference by Dec. 1, 2013. That’s a minimum of 100 CLUs per district, but there will likely be many more, he said.
Christlike Love Units are a type of small group fellowship, but not just any small group. CLUs are small, very specific groups devoted to being a loving, welcoming experience for each person.
“The emphasis on the CLU is to have a loving experience,” Bishop King said. “The CLU is kind of a guaranteed, love-based experience. It’s a smaller unit where you can invite someone where the mission of the CLU is centered in Christlike love.”
In his travels throughout the Conference, Bishop King noticed that some worship services are filled with love and others are not, there are Bible study groups that are more cliquish than they should be, and some church experiences are less than hospitable.
The primary purpose of the Christlike Love Unit is for each participant to have a love based Christlike experience, Bishop King said. It should also be a place where regular attendees feel encouraged to invite friends and where first-time visitors feel welcome and loved.
“The point of the CLU is that you know if you invite someone there they will be well received and they’re going to experience firsthand the love of Christ through that group,” he said.
A secondary purpose of a CLU is to practice the values of the faith (Sabbath, baptism, communion, fasting, scripture, stewardship, fellowship, justice, prayer, witness).
As part of his CLU, Bishop King and two other bishops meet weekly via phone and during their time together practice four values of the faith. In their weekly one-hour conversations, the three men pray, fellowship, use the Bible to spark Godly conversation, and fast. (Their weekly phone call is during lunch, so they all skip lunch and practice the discipline and value of fasting during their time together.)
CLUs are not new.
Jesus was in a CLU, of sorts. Even within the disciples he spent a lot of time with three, Peter, James and John.
In the Book of Acts after the Day of Pentecost when people were coming into the faith they were meeting in small groups in each other’s homes.
And John Wesley developed a three-strand discipleship process with an emphasis on bands, or core groups.
“I’m really big on the power and effectiveness of small groups and I have been for a long, long time,” Bishop King said. “The CLUs are a particular kind of fellowship group, a particular kind of small group. They’re not new, but they are another spin that I am bringing to small groups. They’re my perspective and are rooted in Biblical principles.”
Bishop King hopes that, as CLUs are formed and grow, they will be building blocks for congregations and for a more Christlike world.
As more love is sowed and spread across South Georgia, the Church will grow, he said.
“We need to grow the kingdom of God one block at a time, one unit of love at a time,” Bishop King said. “As we do that, the membership in South Georgia will change and will be more loving.
“I’m expecting that South Georgia will be more loving, and the more loving we are the more we will grow in membership. And the membership being more loving will grow a more Christlike world.”
How to Form a CLU, a Christlike Love Unit
Provide a Christlike experience where love is shared through support and encouragement.
Become an experience where disciples are nurtured by practicing or inquiring about the 10 timeless values of faith, i.e. in a one hour CLU meeting a disciple can practice the values of fellowship, prayer, scripture, and fasting.
Create an invitational experience that is both loving and positive for newcomers.
Who: Suggested membership size and projected results:
· 3-4 persons – great results
· 5-6 persons – good results
· 7 persons and above – temporary (subdivide to adequately listen to each person)
· CLUs are also for older children (9- 12-years old) and youth.
What: Each member of a CLU should be given the time to share a joy and/or sorrow.
Where: Location of your meeting is flexible – phone, home, in person, coffee house, church, etc.
When: Time of your meeting is flexible. Meet when it is best for CLU members. Each CLU will meet for 1 hour a week. The goal is to meet 38 to 42 times a year.
- CLUs are a particular kind of fellowship. CLUs are honeycombs filled with Christlike love. People are drawn to love like bees to honey.
- A loaner is someone who is loaned out to start a new CLU. After six months to one year, a loaner is someone who is temporarily sent out to start a new CLU. This only requires two hours a week – one hour in a new CLU and one hour in their home CLU.
- CLUs have a strong evangelistic component. This is one of the best places to invite potential newcomers.
- In thinking about what to share in your CLU ask yourself, “What would I talk to Jesus about and what would Jesus talk to me about?” Respect the confidential nature of all conversations. Avoid language/conversations that divide. No competitive bragging, politics, fraternities, sororities, etc.