BIG IDEA: Commitment and conviction aren’t enough to keep us from drifting. We all need strong connections with others who will hold us accountable.
Can you remember a time when even though you were really committed to do something, you didn’t do it? Or have you ever had a strong conviction not to do something and you did it anyway? We want to stay committed. We want to stick to our convictions. But somehow we fall short. We don’t usually wake up in the morning planning to abandon a commitment or jettison a conviction. It’s more of a slow drift. We are tempted to do something we shouldn’t, and then we talk ourselves out of doing it, and then we decide to do it anyway … but just this once. We are all incredibly adept at self-deception. We never intend for the “just this once” to become the norm. But before we know it, we’ve drifted away from our exercise programs, our diets, our schedules with margin, our budgets, our moral convictions, etc. It is how affairs begin; it is how honest businessmen become dishonest; it is how social drinking becomes alcoholism; it is how good dating relationships go places we never intended.
The propensity to drift is in all of us. That’s another reason to live in community. When we start to get off track, when commitment and conviction start to wane, we need to be surrounded by people who will be there to pull us back.
We want everyone to have a clear understanding of the community group’s purpose, values, and plans, so that they commit to spending a year together in relationship.
Everyone comes into a small group with certain expectations and understandings so during this session we will be clarifying the group’s purpose, values, and what we can all expect as we meet together. WARNING: You will be talking more this session than previous ones, because you will be clarifying expectations and describing the oneChurch small group model.
The Purpose of a Community Group isto provide a predictable small group environment whereparticipants experience two things: authentic community and spiritual growth.
We think predictability is key to an effective small group. That is why we have closed groups, which means that the group can be predictable about who is in the group. The group is also predictable in what they experience, for every group should consist of fellowship (Connection), Bible Study (Discussion), and Prayer. We define authentic community by the ABC’s of groupLife: Accountability, Belonging, and Care.
Let’s take a look at where we’re going during the next year as a Community Group, talk about the pages ahead.
We believe that a person who is growing in their relationship with Jesus Christ is someone who is pursuing intimacy with God, community with insiders and influence with outsiders. One of the best ways to implement the three vital relationships in small groups is through the use of curriculum. It is our desire that your group will use a curriculum that focuses on each of these relationships during the life cycle of the group.
1st Stage: Community With Insiders
The first 8 weeks of group is called a Starter Group. Think of this as a test drive. Group members share their stories and get to know each other. In this stage of the group, the vital relationship community with insiders is emphasized as they get to know each other. This is where belonging and care begins. This cycle ends with members signing a covenant (a commitment to pursue community and spiritual growth together for the next 12 months). After the covenant is signed, the group becomes a closed group.
2nd Stage: Intimacy with God
In the next stage of group (35 weeks), Intimacy with God is emphasized. This is where groups learn how to pursue a growing, personal relationship with God. It is where God reveals more about Himself – His nature and character. Together members share what God is doing in their lives. It is during this stage that you go deep into studying books of the Bible.
The Halfway Point: Go Deeper with Each Other
At the halfway point, the group is encouraged to make two key decisions together: Group Leader will identify an apprentice that will start taking greater ownership in the group with the end in mind of the one group becoming two. Because adults learn on a need to know basis, one of the best ways that we can enlist and develop new leaders is through apprenticing. It is critical that you identify and develop an apprentice. And everyone in the group finds a one-on-one accountability partner who will weekly reach out and ask the tough questions, sharing their struggles. This is where members learn how to encourage and to equip each other as they experience true spiritual growth.
3rd Stage: Influence with Outsiders
In the last stage of group, Influence with outsiders is emphasized. This is about groups living out their beliefs. They work through studies about sharing their faith, serving others, etc. And groups do more than just talk about what God would have them do – they go out into the community and do it together! This stage of Influence with outsiders sets the group up for the last event…
A Year Together: Multiplication!
Do you know how many great groups we can have? We can have as many great groups as we have great group leaders. Multiplication is a celebration of what God has done in the life of the current group and of what God will do in the life of the future groups. Multiplication is a critical component to small groups. It is a stage where you agree to take a few newcomers and start building new friendships. Everything has a life cycle, and as your group adds or loses members, you’ll need to adapt to its needs. One of those needs will be the need to love new people. Filling our lives with only relationships we are super comfortable with stifles the love we need to show to everyone in our church. Multiplication allows others to experience the awesome environment of group. It is the best thing our church has to offer, and we need your help to share it.