I still remember the day like it was yesterday. The year was 2015. It was a hot, Saturday afternoon in June and my wife, Kathy, and I were headed to meet some new people that go to our church. They called it a Life Group, and I had no idea what that was. As we drove over to their house, I decided I was not going to like it or any of the people.
Six years later, these people I didn’t want to meet or like, are the closest thing I have to family. God wants us to ‘do life’ with others. He didn’t put us on this earth to be alone, but instead, to be in ‘Life Groups’ with other believers.
Just what is a Life Group anyway?
Life group, house church, small group, whatever you want to call it, is a group of people, like you and me, who regularly gather to build lasting friendships, encourage one another, and have a Christ-centered focus in their lives. When you belong to a large church like Shepherd’s Gate it’s sometimes difficult to become acquainted with others and form close friendships. Joining a Life Group allows individuals and families to do just that.
What happens in a Life Group?
Life Groups can take on many different forms and styles. Typically, Life Groups gather twice a month in their homes. They have a short Bible study of their choice, spend time in prayer, build and strengthen relationships with each other and God, and of course have lots of fun and great food too. Some groups have more of a social gathering or service project focus, others focus on prayer or Bible study. Whether you’re an empty nester, have a young family, or are a single parent, you and your group will decide what happens in your group. My family has been in various life groups for more than twenty years here at Shepherd’s Gate and our group has changed according to what suited our needs at the time.
What is the benefit of a Life Group?
The biggest benefit is the life-long friendships you will form with other Christians. In addition, when you spend time together with your life group, it opens up the opportunity to be there for each other during the good and hard times of life. Personally, Kathy and I have shared graduations and the weddings of our three daughters with our Life Group. When my father passed away, our Life Group family was there to support us and pray with us. This is when you know they are more than friends, they are part of your family.
Who leads the Life Group and what are they expected to do?
A group leader is primarily a point of contact and communication, internally to group members and externally to the leadership in the church. A leader will also help to keep the group on focus in a meeting and as they plan their next encounters. Leadership can rotate between members if that is desired.
How long of a commitment is this?
This varies with the individual and the group. Some Life Groups have been together for decades while others have disbanded or changed members as the circumstances of the participants evolved. A couple of years ago, our Life Group changed because some of our group members moved. At the same time, a new family was looking to join a Life Group allowing us to welcome them into ours. Generally, Life Groups stay together for a few years to build relationships. Some Life Groups expand to the point of forming into two groups while others have been together for over twenty years.
How do I find a Life Group that fits me?
Shepherd’s Gate has staff dedicated to connecting people into Life Groups. Wherever you are or whatever your needs are today; a young family or empty nester, newly married or elderly, needing a gender-specific group or one with special needs, they will help you form a Life Group with other like-minded people and provide Bible study resources to help your group keep a Christ-centered focus. Take your next step by filling out the Life Groups form. When you do, you’ll be connected with other amazing people who fill their lives with Jesus.