Community Groups (pt. 3) - How?
Now that the "why" and the "what" have been looked at, we now move to the "how". A regular Community Group consist of fellowship, typically some type of meal, Bible study, and prayer with and for each other. Our regular meetings are built with the idea of "community" in mind. This is where life on life discipleship happens; where the truths of Scripture are worked out within the lives of those in attendance.
While Bible study is a part of what we do it's not the point of these meeting. The point is gospel-rich community and being involved in each others lives. It's through the sharing of joys as well as struggles that we find and take opportunities to speak the gospel into each other's lives in real and practical ways. If prayer is the only thing that happens on a particular night, that's fine. That's what God had intended for that gathering. While our Community Group leaders are prepared to teach, they are more concerned with caring for the souls who are present.
These regular meeting have a consistent start and end time. We find this is better for planning and scheduling. If someone has to leave they can without feeling weird or rushed, while others may stick around for more fellowship and conversation if desired.
This often leads to the group members getting together outside of the regular meeting. This is healthy and good. The regular meeting shouldn't be the only time these people get together. There should be other times that the group meets recreationally or missionally. Sometimes this takes intentionality on the part of the leaders on the front end, but after a while it's natural. This is important as we seek to continue to deepen the relationships of those involved. For most groups this happened pretty regularly because they love being together.
These additional gathering times are also a non-threatning way to incorporate unbelievers as well and newcomers.
Our groups take breaks throughout the year as well. Between Thanksgiving and the new year is an example of when a group might not meet regularly. Maybe a few weeks to a month in the summer is another. We've found this is good for the leaders who need a break and builds anticipation within the group to get back together. These breaks don't mean the group isn't in contact with each other, just that they aren't meeting regularly.
That basically answers the "how" of our Community Groups. The last post in this series will answered the dreaded and often feared question of what to do "when" a group gets too big.