Originally, we had planned to launch approximately 10-12 Life Groups (community-based home groups) this Fall. However, given all of the changes we’ve experienced lately (and which you have responded to incredibly) we decided that the body needed to “breathe” for a while and adjust. So, we have opted to push this back to January 2008.
Although we are not certain how many groups we will begin, we are determined (by God’s grace) to make sure that we start well and healthy. We will recruit for homes and facilitators in the next few months. After recruitment, we will have a period of training and development. We are seeking to meet the needs of the body by first looking at the membership demographic and targeting the areas with the highest concentration of people, making sure that we have at least one group for each region to start with.
Remember, our aim in starting these groups is to pursue our PASSION by living out Acts 2:42-47 in community-based, cross-generational, whole-family home groups. Life Groups are designed to meet the 1st and 3rd weeks of each month in the same home. The purpose for not moving the group around is to establish a presence in the community that is recognized and regular in order to provide the best chance for evangelism, while sharing life together. Our reason for the “every other week” approach is to provide an “off week” for smaller accountability (men with men / ladies with ladies) and discipleship groups. We don’t want to overwhelm you with an incredibly busy schedule, so we are trying to focus our efforts on 3 primary time slots per week (Sunday AM / Life Group / Wednesday PM).
There are different philosophies of small groups. Many churches opt for “closed groups” in which there is a covenantal relationship among the members and the sharing is quite intimate and confidential. This is a valid approach. There are other groups that are “open groups” which opt for a more evangelistic focus. This also has great merit. We are opting for more of a “hybrid” approach in which our hope is that intimacy will develop and expressed some among the group and probably in more detail in the “off week” accountability / discipleship groups. We also hope for the evangelistic component where the lost in the Life Group’s community feel they are not merely the “target” of that groups, rather invited to join the conversation and bodylife of the group, although they will feel somewhat disconnected without a relationship with Christ. This is an appropriate “angst” to help the unbeliever realize.
Again, our basis for this is Acts 2:42-47 where I see great sharing, discussion, fellowship AND evangelism occuring. We simply want to as closely model the New Testament biblical community as possible. I look forward to the establishment of these groups. In the meantime, please be in prayer for the staff as we seek the right people for leadership and the right timing for implementation.