At Shadow Lake Church we have a discipleship process, with three key pieces. Focus, Risk, and Impact. Life Groups main part of that process is Risk, as in Risking Relationships. Anytime there is a risk, it is because it could go either right or wrong, it could go well or poorly. If the outcome was guaranteed, there is no risk. Of course the greater the risk, the greater the reward, or possible failure.
I like how they judge some of the Olympic sports now, where a factor in your score is based on how high the risk was. The higher the risk, the higher the possible score. So what is the risk in Life Groups. Well, what if I tell people what I am really like, and they reject me? That could be devastating, so the temptation is to be very cautious in showing others who we are. Yet Life Groups is the place where we are asking people to be the real them. We want Life Groups to be a safe place to be who you are, and from there begin the growth process to be more like Jesus. The level of authenticity in your group is going to be equal to your level of authenticity. You will be the gauge. I for instance could pretend like I have all the answers, but many of you have known me for years, so it does me no good to pretend. You have seen the best and worst of me, and most of you still will talk to me, at least in public, when others are watching!
I saw a great compliment from a participant in Life Group to her group, it went something like this. “I have the world’s greatest Life Group, they know me and still invite me to the group!” This is a great example of community. They know me and still love me. In Life Groups, we want people to experience community.
Another significant part of Life Groups is care. This summer we had two different members of Life Groups experience the death of a child. What could be more devastating? A Life Group cannot begin to ease that pain, but I the actions I saw in those Life Groups in the way they came alongside the hurting individuals was inspiring. We want people in Life Groups to both give and experience care.
Last spring we did a sermon based study on GraceWorks. I can’t tell you how many reports of incredible discussion and growth that came about from that series. It was amazing, much like grace. We want people to come to Life Groups as they are, but we also hope Life Groups will be a place where they can grow in their faith.
Community, Care, and Discipleship will always be at the forefront of what we do in Life Groups. But as always we want to continue to expand and improve on what we are doing in Life Groups. Here is some new stuff we are tying this year.
- Life Group Launch
After a very successful trial year of doing Life Group Launches, we will be continuing this. Life Group Launches are for anyone new to Shadow Lake or new to Life Groups. It is a 12 week group that teaches the participants how to be a Life Group at Shadow Lake, and then at the end, they branch out on their own and become a Life Group. This year we will be having 2 Life Group launches, one on Mondays and one on Wednesdays.
- Sermon Based Life Groups
We have a couple of tools to help your discussions go well. Before each series Pastor Lance will make a short video that will give you an overview of the entire series, so you know where we are going with the series. The discussion questions will also come in a set format, so week to week there will be some consistency. An example is included in your notes.
One change of philosophy from the Executive Team is in regards to paid childcare. We want to over time, eliminate church paid childcare. As we continue to grow, it has simply become unsustainable. During the coming year we want to phase it out. I know for some of you, it is no big deal, for others it may be. We are not asking for you to go cold turkey. Here are some suggestions we have for you. First, find a volunteer who will do it for free. Maybe an older sibling from the group, or a high school kid who needs community service hours. Another option would be to find a volunteer and split the cost between the group itself. We paid 10 for a Junior High kid and 15 for a High School kid for the entire night. I don’t think that is a lot for a group to come up with, but when you take it times 30 groups for 30 plus nights it is over 10,000 dollars. That is a lot of money. A third possible option is that in the case of hardship, you will be the judge of this not us, we would ask you to pay the childcare and then turn it into us to be reimbursed.
- College Age Life Group
This year for the first time, we will have a Life Group specific for College kids age 18-23. The Hoxie’s will be leading and hosting this group, and I am very excited about it.
- WebsiteOur Life Group Leaders website has a new look as well as some new information.
6. More Training
My personal goal for Life Groups this year is to provide more ongoing training, encouragement, and support throughout the year thru blogs, emails, training video clips, prayer. Life Groups are a big deal to us.