LifeGroups are all about “Cultivating Growth Together!” in ‘sermon-based’ groups that Study the Sunday sermon material and Support one another in ‘Share, Care, Prayer’ time each week! One particular challenge for us, as a church trying to ‘simplify’ our structures (see the “Simple Church” brochure on the Resource Tables at church for more details) and better meet our congregation’s needs, is figuring out how best to make LifeGroups work in a way that fits well with our current ministry structure and yet doesn’t add an additional night or expectation/pressure to our already overburdened and busy lives. Easier said than done, right?! Our leadership “plans in pencil” to allow flexibility and adjustments to happen as needed. We value the life change that happens within small groups and will continue to adjust and tweak our program environments to best meet that need.
- Click here for Weekly Study Guides & Group Lessons (found in the weekly Worship Guide at http://tiny.cc/fccbulletins at any time.)
- Click here to listen to this week’s Sermon.
- Click here for the 2012-2013 LifeGroups Handbook (can be found at http://tiny.cc/lghandbook at any time.)
- Called “LifeGroups” (LG, for short) > In keeping with our 2nd C, “Cultivate Growth in relationship with God and one another, we call them “LifeGroups” so that these smaller community groups will foster an environment where we grow together. Our motto for LifeGroups is “Cultivating Growth Together!”
- Meeting primarily on Wednesday Nights, from 6:00-7:30 pm, although we currently have LifeGroups meeting on Sundays and Fridays as well.
- Studying ‘Sermon-Based’ Curriculum > The “homework” is a brief devotional Bible study that is on the inside of the worship bulletin (and available above as a link.)
- Structured for ‘Study’ & ‘Support’ > The structure of the time in LifeGroups will basically be divided between “Study” (6:00-7:00 – Discussion of Lesson) and “Support” (7:00-7:30 – Share, Care, Prayer).
- Sign-up happens during the weeks leading up to the Fall (August) and Spring (January) semesters, however you can sign at any time for the next semester’s LGs.
- A generic Adult LifeGroup will always be available for those who visit mid-semester or who may not yet be ready for a smaller and more focused LifeGroup. Anyone is able to join any time… no sign up needed. In fact, for new folks at FCC who want to join a LifeGroup, but who come mid-semester, this will function well until they can sign up for the next semester.
How big are the groups? How do we form them? Who leads each group? Do they ‘divide’ when they get too big?
Quick Answers: We shoot for groups of 10-15. After you sign up, we will contact you with a few group option(s). Group leaders are trained and accountable to our church leadership. As far as the ‘dividing’ question… basically no, they do not ‘divide.’ We start new groups.
Longer Answers: We are asking that each group have a roster of at least 10. This ensures enough folks are there each week. More than 15 becomes too large to be called, well, a ‘small’ group. Groups are formed by signing up (please indicate if there’s someone with whom you’d like to be in a group.) If you don’t know many folks yet, sign up and we’ll let you know your option(s). We understand that not dividing groups means, initially, that ‘veterans’ will be with ‘veterans,’ but also that relatively new folks will eventually be with relatively new folks. This is what makes these groups “sticky”, keeping people involved intimately enough that our groups can help meet one another’s need for spiritual growth. Think of it this way… People are like Legos™. Yes… people are like toy-shaped blocks… they have a limited number of ‘relational connectors.’ In other words, ‘veterans’ of FCC will more naturally want to be in a group with their friends. Fine. No problem. Go right ahead. Their ‘relational connectors’ are already, uh, connected. But new folks likely have more ‘relational connectors’ available. So newer groups will naturally have newer folks in them. Also, if your group doesn’t ‘gel’ well enough for/with you, if you need a break from LifeGroups for whatever reason, if you’re serving somewhere else in the building on Wed Nights, take a semester off or sign up for another one next semester. Each group fills out an Evaluation Form at the end of the semester.
What do we do with new people who come in the middle of a semester?
Newcomers to Wed Nights will join the generic Adult LifeGroup until time for the next sign-ups (the weeks preceding the beginning of groups, i.e., Dec/Jan or July/Aug). They give a brief review for any guests who may not have heard the sermon, discuss the sermon content in-depth, and will go through the same discussion questions as other LifeGroups.
Why are most LifeGroups at church on Wednesday Nights?
By placing the majority of our LGs on Wednesday Nights at church we are able to integrate with our current Children’s and Youth Ministries. This is especially valuable for families. By participating in a Wednesday Night LG, families are able to engage their children in Kid’s Club or ONEEIGHTY without having to schedule an additional night of church involvement.
Can LifeGroups still do things outside of meeting times?
Absolutely! In fact, please do! While our structure tries to limit LGs’ meetings to a particular night for achieving its basic purposes (i.e., the 2nd C > see here), we would like to encourage groups to gather socially outside of that meeting time. In fact, meeting to ‘study’ and ‘support’ on a particular night may provide margin and freedom for LGs to fellowship more effectively during other times.
Why don’t we assign people to groups based on their neighborhood?
Sounds great on paper, but one of the poorest predictors of a potential deep friendship is the neighborhood in which we live. In most cases, it simply indicates shared economic status. Plus, Greeneville/Greene County is not a huge metropolis, people!
Why don’t we build groups around shared interests or a common ‘station’ in life?
3 responses: (1) We believe that groups will naturally achieve some of this when people sign up together with friends. (2) We think the diversity of a little mixing of ages, ‘place’ in life, etc. is a good thing and such intergenerational ministry is a high value for us. (3) Christ and growing in Him is a shared interest. So, get to know some new folks… that’s part of growth!
Why are we doing ‘sermon-based’ groups and not being allowed to choose our own curriculum?
Briefly: Increased engagement, attentiveness, and note-taking during sermons, better/easier preparation, increased quality of Group discussion, better learning and greater effectiveness, church-wide focus, easier to bring people into Groups, easier to recruit leaders, better assessment of effectiveness, and reaching more people. Need any more reasons?! )
What does it look like for LifeGroups to serve in ministry together?
We expect LifeGroups to serve one another well. That is, in fact, a ministry. We believe that serving in ministry will happen organically when people are growing spiritually. That’s really how a church grows… when its people live as personal witnesses to the work of God. Our LifeGroups are the vehicle that drive people into the ‘third C’ (Communicate).
What do we do in the Summer or during ‘down time’ when no LGs are meeting?
Because our Wednesday Night programming breaks for the summer, most of our LifeGroups rest. Take a break, play together, meet in one anothers’ homes, go to the movies together, etc. Some groups may continue to meet together on their own, but most find that a period of rest is healthy and provides anticipation for the Fall launch.