Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why Join a Life Group?

R - Relationships with God and others are given a higher priority in our lives. God is all about relationships. He sent His only Son for us so that we might have a personal connected relationship with Him. Because believers in Jesus have the same Father in heaven, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and can enjoy the incredible experience of being “family.”
E – Evangelism becomes more “natural” – just invite your friends, relatives and work associates to your Life Group. Those who may never step a foot in church may feel comfortable in a home environment with a small group of Christians who demonstrate genuine love, warmth and honesty. This may allow those who are unbelieving to become more receptive to the Christian faith.
L – Learn the Bible in a way that brings it alive to your life and deepens your personal understanding. You will have the opportunity to consider and discuss, ask questions and investigate the Word of God in the context of a Life Group and discover how it applies to your life. The give and take of a small group allows for a whole new level of learning.
A – Attention is given to individuals in a way that could never happen in our large church worship services. It’s in Life Groups “where people know you and care.”
T – Time is set aside each week or bi-monthly to devote to spiritual growth. Participation in a Life Group is saying –God and people are important in my life.
I – Individuals don’t feel isolated when they are in a Life Group. Life Groups are made up of people from different walks of life. There are married couples, single adults, people with children in different stages of life, empty nesters, single college aged, divorced, widowed and senior adults. A Life Group is a small group of people to whom you are connected, study the Bible together, pray together and want to get to know you.
O – Others-oriented lives, are something Jesus talked about repeatedly. Participation in Life Groups means we are thinking and caring about others. Our focus in life widens to care about others in significant and tangible ways.
N - New Testament Christians (as in the book of Acts), met together regularly. There will never be enough professional church staff to meet every individual’s needs. God’s plan was that all Christians would minister to each other.
S – Spiritual Giftedness has a place for expression in Life Groups. Perhaps you will find that you have gifts of leadership that were never discovered. It’s in the context of ministry that your spiritual gift of hospitality, helps, intercession, mercy or administration (as well as many others) is developed and your sense of God-given purpose amplified. Life Groups encompass great opportunities for the development of spiritual gifts.
H – Handling the Pressures of Life comes easier when we share our concerns, struggles, and joys. We find in Life Groups we “do life together” and “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep”.
I – Investing our lives in eternal values sets our priorities in place. Life Groups help us to do just that.
P – Prayer becomes more significant as we lift up the needs of others in our group and community and have the assurance that our needs are being prayed for as well.
S – Significance – God honoring lives lived out in community give us a sense of significance, knowing that God loves us, saved us through His Son, Jesus Christ, and gives us unique purpose and meaning.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vision for Life Groups

Our Senior Pastor’s vision for this church includes connecting every person to a Life Group where tight communities of people are built that love and care for each other. People are discipled into mature believers through these groups. Hundreds of “Faith in Action” acts of service, given freely through the ministry of Life Groups, would impact our community with the love and message of Jesus Christ in a tangible way.
Hydesville Community Church has a long history of “small group” ministry. Starting in the early ‘80’s small groups of believers committed to spend 18 months to 2 years together in a “Growth Group”. They met weekly, studied the Bible and, prayed together, fellowshipped, recreated together and reached out into the community with acts of love and service in Jesus name. And ever since that time “Small Groups” have been an intricate element woven into the fabric of our Hydesville Church culture.
I was in one of those first “Growth Groups” and have a vivid memory of it’s beginning. At that time our church sanctuary faced Highway 36. The church hadn’t been redecorated since the 1950’s and the linoleum tile floor and old style hanging wallpaper dipped down precariously from the ceiling above. The building itself didn’t look terribly inviting, but the people within those walls welcomed us with open arms. My husband and I arrived early one morning, as we were official “greeters” for the church service. My husband casually mentioned to Pastor Mike that he thought we would like to join a Growth Group. In just a moment Pastor Mike was speedily back from his study with two booklets in hand and a place for us to sign on the dotted line. I’m not sure I had ever seen him move so fast, but now, nearly twenty-five years later, I totally understand . These small groups whether they are called “Growth Groups” or “Life Groups” have an amazing potential to facilitate great spiritual growth , a real sense of community, and are truly a place where “people know you and care.” If you are someone who gets excited about seeing people grow spiritually and develop in their God-given potential as a unique member of the body of Christ, then you will understand why we are thrilled at seeing this ministry expand. Will you join us on our continuing journey as we dive into this new chapter called Hydesville Community Church “Life Groups?” As Beth Moore would say, “Let’s do this thing together”.

Penny Fregeau, Director of Small Groups
Hydesville Community Church