Now time for a fun post. I was driving back form Huntsville AL last week and I was doing what I normally do on long trips...doodling in my little black book, developing diagrams and matrixes. I turned to my wife as she was driving and shared with her the matrix I was working on in relation to the gathered and scattered church. The more I shared the terms gathered and scattered, the more we began to drift into Waffle House terminology. Waffle House is a great third place by the way. Typically the waiters work regular shifts and are usually open to conversation. My friend Nathan Capps has a regular Waffle House ministry that has been quite fruitful.
So here is a quick look at a matrix that depicts how gathering people for fellowship, discipleship, and worship times can intersect with scattering for mission.
High on Gathered, Low on Scattered: Gathering with limited scattering will essentially smother the church with meetings, programs, and worship services. This kind of church can only thrive for a season. After a while, people get cabin fever and start turning in on each other.
Low Gathered, Low Scattered: I used the word capped here because low on both of these categories puts a cap on the potential of the community. You need covenanted community that meets frequently, and a sending out away from the center towards the edge in order to honor the giftings and callings within the community.
High Scattered, Low Gathered: Scattering for mission works best in the community when you couple it with regular gatherings where people can give testimonies, share challenges, and be inspired through friendships and visionary leadership. Only your more entrepreneurial people will be able to go for extended periods of scattering without gathering. On average, most people need a good blend of both. Without regular gatherings, people feel isolated and fragmented. You don't want to dice up the community for the sake of mission. You can do both gathered and scattered, and do them both well.
High Scattered, High Gathered: I put covered here, because if you do one without the other, you become vulnerable to latent forces within the community or the surrounding environment. Covering your bases on doing both gathered and scattered is a good way to guard your community against unnecessary pitfalls.
So consider this a simple, reproducible Waffle House Ecclesiology.