The earliest churches in Acts used communities to reach people for Christ. As the gospel spread from the temple, it also moved house to house, reaching people of all backgrounds through the power of the resurrection. The church became what their biological families could not. They shared Someone in common, preaching the good news from house to house (Acts 2:42-47).
Over the past few months, our church has been practicing this Acts 2 model. At deacons’ retreat in October 2013, several deacons committed to being “neighborhood catalysts.” Since then, many others are reaching their neighbors through service and social media sites like nextdoor.com. The work at Sabal Palm Elementary, Montgomery House, and on FSU campus has prepared the way. Through kingdom assignments, Connections Weekend, and deacon catalysts, people indicated an interest in some kind of discipleship ministry. Our Pastoral Staff began to pray about reaching the unreached as a community. Connections Weekend inspired many to reach their neighbors, workplaces, and the less fortunate. Matt Reynolds challenged us to “take the church to the people.”
In order to do so, this past Sunday, we formed a new planning ministry group. Under the coaching of our pastoral staff, their charge is to implement a “Life Group” ministry for First Baptist. Our approach will be to take the template from Acts 2 to reach the unchurched, uninvolved, and unreached.
Life Groups will not replace the work that people are already doing through First Baptist or the wonderful groups we already have. So many of you are actively involved in many facets of our church life. One of those ways is through the dynamic Sunday Morning Bible Study (SMBS) ministry. We’ll always have Sunday morning groups focused on teaching the Bible and building the fellowship of First Baptist and Wednesday night groups that equip the body.
Life Groups will complement this dynamic teaching ministry in several important ways. They will focus on a common place of work or residence, a common pursuit or interest, and a common phase of life. They will be off-site, outward focused, and organic. They will be open to anyone who wants to be a part of them. These groups will not meet at 108 West College Avenue. They will be focused on reaching people who normally are not involved in a church. They will grow and multiply organically, like a vine and branches.
Over the summer, this planning ministry group will be preparing for a churchwide launch. In September, everyone at First Baptist will have an opportunity to sign up to be a part of a Life Group. We still have many details to work out, and your input and prayers are important.
How can you help? Please begin praying for everyone involved. For this effort to succeed, we need the prayers of the people and the power of the Holy Spirit. Study Acts 2:41-47, and reflect on the common Way of life described. Make plans to be a part of Life Groups in the Fall of 2014. As Neal Cole suggests, “The church should exist where life happens.” Let’s take the church into our community.