This is the first stage of an expanding small group ministry. The next stage will be to see a small group on every street in the parish (and beyond).
This parochial view of ministry might sound a little imperialistic, but in fact it is based on Paul’s reminder to Titus:
Titus 1:5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you-
Crete is a big place, 135 miles long and 45 miles wide. Titus was sent to be a church planter, appointing elders to pastor churches wherever there was a town. He was not to be distracted by arguing with the circumcision party over the law. In the UK there is pretty much a church in every community and so we can take Paul’s command and scale it down. Go and appoint an elder in every street in the parish.
It gives a concrete goal, one which can be tackled systematically and in an organised way.
As I read Derek Prime’s chapter on Delegation in “On Being a Pastor” I came across this little piece of history which acts as an encouragement to delegate pastoral care this way:
We referred earlier to Charles Simeon’s division of his parish into areas and his appointment of a man and woman church member to be responsible for the homes in their district. An obvious key to its success over the fifty years he sustained it was his monthly meeting with those who visited when they reported on what they had done, and he gave his advice on difficult cases. The dual elements of complete delegation and the possibility of control, where necessary, were both present.