The Importance of a Life Group
Our church is always promoting involvement. Because it has more than 10,000 members, one of the most important things we can do for our faith is to join a small group and help make the church feel smaller and more intimate. Without a small group, it's easy to get lost in the crowd, hide in the corner and not get involved. After four years of helping with our church's youth group, we traded that in for an adult small group, which we now call our life group. It started very small with just three couples, and last fall we enrolled in a class called Alpha. There were a few others paired with our group and provided a natural way for us to expand. After taking Alpha, our group continued to meet every other week until recently, when we agreed that a weekly meeting would be better.
3 reasons I love our life group:
- We help each other grow deeper in our Christian faith. Everyone has their own special gifts and talents, and it's awesome to see God work through our group and to see each individual's gifts come out the more we get to know each other.
- We are making lifelong friends. Not many friends have a standing weekly appointment to get together. It's like a Bible study/scheduled get-together with people who will help me become a better person. Who doesn't want that?
- It's what Jesus did. Jesus had his 12 disciples with him always. Yes, he took time to help other individuals, and also preached to the masses, but ultimately he had a core group that he was always with. They were each other's strength in time of need and leaned on each other.
When we went to Chucktown, we got to experience Garrett and Lauren's life group in action. We also intentionally asked them lots of questions about what works for them and what hasn't worked. They have been in their life group a lot longer than we have and it was very beneficial to gain their perspective on the structure of their group.
So, we packed those ideas with us and headed back to Iowa, in hopes of making our life group the best it could be. If you have a life group or are thinking of starting/joining one, here is what our current structure looks like.
- Meet weekly: We determined that meeting every other week just wasn't enough. So we moved our meetings to Tuesday nights from 6:30-9 p.m. This helps us stay committed. When we met every other week, it was easy to fill in the off-week with other priorities. If God is our priority, we feel we can give him one night a week. Tuesday is a great night apart from the weekend worship that gives a mid-week recharge.
- Fellowship over a meal: We care about each other and want to catch up on life each time we get together, so having a meal helps us do that. We used to all bring one dish wherever we were meeting. We have since switched that format to the host house providing the meal, and a standard rotation of hosting. This way you only have to worry about making a meal when you are hosting. This has been a huge help!
- Rotating hosts: Originally we had everyone over to our house every other week, but found this to be a bit cumbersome. We are relieved now that we rotate houses on a regular basis. It matters not if someone doesn't have 12 comfortable seats for all of us, we make it work, and there is always plenty of floor space.
- Learn together: As a group, we bring ideas of studies that we would like to do in the future and pick those that get the majority vote. Most studies are at least four weeks long, if not more. Sometimes we take a break and just pick a book of the Bible, read it on our own, and bring questions and comments that we have. Usually one question leads to another and before we know it, it's time to go home. Some studies we have done thus far are iMarriage, Galatians, The Hole in Our Gospel and Proverbs. Next on our list is Love and Respect.
- Serve together: We currently help out with a ministry at our church that delivers cold meat sandwiches and cookies to the homeless in the Des Moines area. We do this every time there are five Sundays in the month (three to five times a year). We also volunteer regularly with Meals From the Heartland and other opportunities as they come up.
- Lean on each other: We are constantly emailing throughout the week with prayer requests. It helps keep us connected and we get to see God answer prayers, which is super fantastic. After we told our families that we are having a baby, we then told our life group (a few weeks before we told the world).
- Have fun: We recently added a fun wrinkle to our structure. Every fifth week, after everyone has hosted a Tuesday, we have a gals and pals night. It took quite some time to come up with that clever name, but its yours to take...for free...don't say I never gave you anything. Gals and pals night is a time that we divide and conquer, or just divide and hang out. Guys do one thing, and the girls do another. Last time the guys went out for wings and a drink, and the girls went out for Mexican and pedicures. It's a great bonding experience as some conversations are best suited for males/females only.
Well, there you have it. That's what we do every Tuesday night in our life group. How about you? Are you connected in a small group outside of church? Thinking about it?