Ministry Overview: Life Groups

GRC’s Discipleship Focus

 

GRC exists to glorify God and make him known as we join God in bringing life-changing transformation to individuals, families, and communities wherever we live and serve. We believe that happens through discipleship, which is the very thing Jesus tasked his church to do in the “Great Commission” when he gave us the fundamental job to “go and make disciples” (Matt. 28:18-20).

 

Discipleship is not a program. It’s not limited to a particular ministry. It is an entire way of life for believers who are seeking to follow Jesus. Every Christian is a disciple of Jesus (that is, a follower of Christ), and we seek to “make disciples” as we invest in one another’s lives through our relationships and the various ministries of the church. Thus, all of our ministries are part of the discipleship pathway we have developed that intentionally meets people where they are and helps them take the next steps in their journey of becoming mature and equipped followers of Jesus.

 

Life Groups Are Central to Our Efforts to Make Disciples

 

“Life Groups” are one of the newer ministries in our church, but it is not just one among many ministries. They are groups of 4-5 people of the same gender led by a trained leader that focus on sharing our lives with one another for the purpose of personal spiritual transformation, deep biblical community, living a missional lifestyle, and equipping disciples to do the same in the lives of others. It is a ministry that seeks to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples. While not the only way in which we are working to make disciples (see above), these groups are central to our calling as a church, and they have the potential to bear significant fruit in the lives of their participants while equipping them to embody our calling to glorify God and make him known as we join God in bringing life-changing transformation to ourselves and others.

 

Life Groups are unique from other kinds of groups in that they are typically more:

  • Intensive—weekly meetings with homework and expectations for activity outside of group time
  • Intimate—a smaller number of same gender participants creates a context for more personal sharing
  • Accountable—participants share how they are repenting, trusting in the gospel, and seeking to change
  • Missional—while all ministries encourage missional living, LGs expect it as central to their purpose
  • Temporary—participants are invited to join a group for a limited time (1-3 years) and then move on to invest in others
  • Reproductive—every participant is expected to multiply their lives in others in some way

 

The “engine” that drives these groups is not legalistic rule-keeping or personal performance, but continually reminding ourselves of God’s grace to us in Christ and applying the gospel to more and more areas of our hearts, so that “Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Cor. 5:14-15).

 

The Growth and Availability of Life Groups

 

We began the first of these groups three years ago with seven prototype groups. Our goal from the very beginning was to be able to offer these groups to anyone and everyone who was interested in them. But Life Groups are unlike anything most of us have experienced before. The key for these groups to be effective is trained leaders: spiritually mature disciple-makers who have been trained and equipped to lead these kinds of groups. We didn’t think we could expect success if we simply described what they were supposed to be and asked a bunch of people who have never experienced them to try to lead them, because we all tend to fall back on what we know, what we’ve experienced in the past. And so, by necessity, we had to start small, but always with the vision to go broad.

 

Our initial leaders received extensive training from a ministry called Life on Life, including three two-day workshops over the course of two years, weekly coaching from Pastor Steve for several months as he worked to equip our other initial group leaders, monthly coaching from Pastor Steve for the first two years, and all of our initial leaders began by being in a Life Group together so that we all shared the initial experience we were attempting to replicate.

 

After two years, some of the members from these initial seven groups were equipped and raised up to lead new groups. Now, after our third year, six more participants are currently receiving 18 hours of training over the course of the summer while discerning if God would call them to lead new groups beginning in the Fall.

 

For the first time since we began this ministry three years ago we now have enough trained leaders to open up this ministry to many more of you who are interested and willing to engage.  This has been our goal all along, and every year that goes by, we will have more equipped leaders who will be able to invite more and more people into this kind of discipleship group.

 

Please pray for our Life Group leaders, and especially for those who are currently going through new leader training. Pray that God raises up more and more equipped disciple-makers for our church, through Life Groups and every other ministry of GRC. And let me know if you’re interested in learning more about Life Groups for the Fall, as new groups will launch after Labor Day.

 

   

Steve Sage serves as the Pastor of Discipleship at GRC.