Connecting with others in a House Kirk is the primary means of growing as a disciple. However, in order for this to happen, we must be committed to building group LIFE. LIFE stands for:
L: Love your neighbors
I: Invite someone along
F: Find ways to serve together
E: Engage God and his Word
Let’s look at these one at a time. As we do, think about your current group or the last year of your group and see if these were a reality in how you lived life together. If one or more were missing, think about what it would look like to bring these into the heartbeat of your small group.
L: LOVE YOUR NEIGHBORS
You will recall several passages of Scripture where Jesus commands his disciples and other followers to love one another, to love their enemies and to love their neighbors. We are called to be lovers…no ifs, ands, or buts. Being a loving community begins with those in our own group. There are many “one anothers” in Scripture and the majority of these have their root in loving one another. In fact in John 17, Jesus tells us that the world will know Him through how we love one another.
However, we are to love beyond our groups. Can you imagine your group being an agent of love to others in your neighborhood, workplace or to your friends in some tangible way? The sky is the limit of being a loving group. Do I need to ask what you think the response would be from the people who were the benefactors of our love? I can share from experience that they would not only be appreciative, but would find themselves drawn to the group, church or at least want to ask a few questions about why you would do such a thing. Great open doors!
The first aspect of group LIFE is loving our neighbors…those within AND outside our groups.
I: INVITE SOMEONE ALONG
How did you get connected to your group? In most cases someone invited you. You love, I love, and people love being personally invited to something. It says, “I really like you and want you to be with me at ________.” I am asked to do many things, and so are you. But when I am personally invited, I stop and consider the invitation. Most of the time, when I am personally invited, I find a way to accept the invitation. Invitations are magnetic and powerful.
Over the next year as a church, we are going to hold as our highest goal that everyone connected at Christ Church would invite someone along. So the question stands, has your group been an inviting group? Think about the possibilities of the people in your group praying for others and extending personal invitations to join the journey of your group. While on one hand this could be exciting to think about, the reality is that is does change the dynamics of your group. The one thing I have found over the years is that people will often guard their community and fight to keep it the same because it meets a real need in their lives. Let me bring you in on a little secret. I was there too. It was only when I finally opened my groups up to the possibility of inviting people in did I realize that, yes, my group changed, but it was always for the better. You see, no group remains the same…even if you tell yourself it does. Groups are always changing and when we allow new life into our group with people we know and love, the group experience gets richer as God works and moves in each person connected.
One other thing I learned is that when someone is invited into a group that impacts their life, they are very likely to invite others from their network to experience the same thing. When these ripples begin, we will experience an amazing tidal wave of connection and movement of the Spirit in our congregation and neighborhoods.
The second aspect of group LIFE is inviting someone along to our group’s journey together.
F: FIND WAYS TO SERVE TOGETHER
Do you remember the powerful picture of Jesus washing his disciple’s feet, taking on the very nature of a servant? Do you remember what he tells his disciples? He tells them to become servants, just as he came to serve.
In our groups, we want to find ways to serve BOTH inside the church AND out in our communities. If you haven’t noticed, servanthood is sweeping through our country and virtually everyone (both Christian and non-Christian) loves to serve and make a difference. No wonder…it is at the heart of God. Imagine again the impact your group could have on Christ Church if your group volunteered to serve in some capacity every now and then. Imagine what it would mean to your neighborhood, community, workplaces, or friends if your group simply rolled up its sleeves and served in some way with no other motivation than to be the love of Christ in that moment. Blessings would abound!
Not only this, every time your group serves together, you build a memory and share an experience that enriches and deepens the relationships of your group. It is the natural byproduct. I often say that it is not the group meetings that deepen a group, but the experiences and connections they share outside the regular group meetings. Some of the greatest gifts you can give your group and others are finding ways to serve together.
The third aspect of group LIFE is finding ways to serve together on a regular basis.
E: ENGAGE GOD AND HIS WORD
As we began this article by speaking of our Life-Change Principles, we see engaging God and His Word coming full circle and tying into the principle of life-change happens where God’s truth meets our lives. Not every group is the same when it comes to their format, focus and time they spend studying Scripture, but in every group we must hold high the value that we are focused on and guided by Christ and his word. Without engaging God and his Word, we are a social club. Without engaging one another, we are an academic class. Our motivation and driving force in all of our communities must be engaging God and his word. So we will ask that all our groups find ways to engage Scripture in some way and make sure we engage God through prayer appropriately, no matter what kind of group of which we are speaking. I have never seen God bless anything for the Kingdom where he was not the center and focus of it all. To thrive as a group you must engage God.
The fourth aspect of group LIFE is engaging God and his Word as a central focus of our life together.
There you have it, Group LIFE. In the months to come, we will have opportunities to talk and bring these values into your group. As we check in, we will use LIFE as a means to discuss how our groups are doing. As we press ahead, we will share stories and find creative ways to live LIFE in our groups. I am very excited about where we are heading and what it means for the influence of the church in the western suburbs and beyond. In the mean time, glance over this article again and begin evaluating and brainstorming how your group has lived LIFE in the past and what you could do beginning this fall to live into group LIFE. If you need even more motivation for group LIFE, imagine a thousand people or more loving their neighbors, inviting others along, finding ways to serve and engaging God and his Word. That has the makings of a movement that will shake the gates of Hell!