Friday, June 7, 2013

Healthy Church, Healthy Groups

Here at Awaken we believe that the health of the church will go as the health of our groups go.  Our approach at Awaken is to filter as many people as possible into Community Groups during the week.  This is our main mode of discipleship.  We treat our Sunday Worship Gatherings as the front door to the house where everybody is welcome.  Not that everybody isn't welcomed into groups, but we see our groups really then as the living space of the house.  This is where we believe it is necessary to teach believers how to grow and live out their faith in Community.  We believe it is in these groups that people will learn together, grow together, hurt together, cry together, love together, laugh together, and wrestle through God's truths together.  Therefore again we believe that the health of Awaken will be built off the health of these groups.  What follows is an adaptation of 7 Elements to a Healthy Community Group taken from Craig Groeschel.

1.  A Great (Community) Group Needs a Leader:  Every community, tribe, group, needs someone that everybody is looking to at the end of the day.  Now we don't want our people to be dependent only on us.  I mean the purpose at the end of the day is to help our people to follow Jesus.  But they need someone who will exemplify for them what it means to know and love Jesus.  They need someone who will help them steady the ship when rough waters come.  They need someone who will navigate them as a group.  So the health of a group is largely dependent on the health of the leader.  Please don't misunderstand people don't want to know you have all the answers they just want to know you care, but you do need to be consistently growing as a leader.  How are you growing as a leader in your group so your people know they can trust you and go to you to help them steady the ship of life?

2.  A Great (Community) Group Is Built Around God's Word:  Yes we want these groups to be where true community and relationships can develop and mature.  Yes it is also true that the heart beat of these groups is not teaching, but is much more.  These groups are shepherding groups where the leading back to God's Word should be the norm.  People don't want your pithy sayings and intellectual thoughts, nor do they need them.  At the end of the day they need to be challenged to go back into God's Word through their lives.  How are you leading people back to God's Word not just during your time together, but throughout their lives?

3.  A Great (Community) Group Is a Safe Group:  People need to know that the group is a safe place and that the leader is a safe person to confide in.  If the group is not seen as safe people will not stay long and will resist opening up.  As a leader in a group your people need to see you as a trusting shepherd who they can go to with problems.  How can you help your people see you as a loving shepherd they can confide in?

4.  A Great (Community) Group Looks Outward:  Serving together is life changing.  I can remember missions trips or community projects I have done and how God uses them to build a common foundation for a group and also how God used them to grow me as an individual.  This is why we want each group to be serving several times a year together.  Think about ways your group can be a place of light in your particular community and neighborhood.  Can your group do a cookout and invite the neighbors, can your group serve together at a battered women's shelter, can your group do something to reach the kids in your neighborhood?  Think through what ways you can lead your group to serve together.  This should happen several times a year.

5.  A Great (Community) Group Birth's New Groups:  Our groups are designed with the intent on seeing them multiply within a given community with the potential for some to evolve organically into a potential church lead church plant down the road.  All through the gospel we see the idea of multiplication.  How are you multiplying leaders, how are you multiplying your reach as a group, how are you drawing new people in, how are you leading your people to think about multiplying their reach with the gospel?  Healthy things multiply.

6.  A Great (Community) Group Takes Breaks:  Life can sometimes get busy and tiring.  Though we want these groups to be a place for rest from the pressures of everyday life we should also be giving our groups regularly scheduled breaks.  This is why within our structure of groups we take off three different months every year.  December because of the busy holiday season, April because of spring fever, and August for back to school and last minute vacations.  This allows breaks to be short as to not lose touch with each other and also allows a natural time for new people to feel like they can jump into a group.  Does your group understand the importance of these groups?

7.  A Great (Community) Group Hurts Together:  Please never forget as we already mentioned these groups need to be a safe place.  People need to know that struggle is a part of life; often times part of God's maturing process. Is your Community Group a place where people can hurt and learn together how to navigate troubled waters.  Do you know what is going on in each of your people's lives?  Do they know that they can talk to you?  How do you stay up with people that are struggling or seem to be drifting?  Do you sit and have coffee outside of group with people who may need extra help during a season of struggle?

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