What We’ve Learned from Life Groups
Last night, I concluded our second season of Life Groups with a huddle of eight leaders. Since last September, Josh Hall has led an initiative to reach the unreached, unchurched, and uninvolved through relationships. We trained over 40 participants to use the natural networks of their lives and invite unreached people to have spiritual conversations. Some of these have been as simple as neighbors having supper together. Others have been more structured. A golf group became a spiritual book club. A group of downtown business neighbors met regularly to discuss community issues. A gathering of neighbors in Southwood bridged racial divides. We started last fall with 20 pilot groups, and we’ve finished the second season with 10 groups meeting on a regular, ongoing basis. The other participants continue to share their faith and are better equipped to do so.
What have we learned thus far?
- Evangelism takes time. You can’t introduce someone to Jesus until you’ve become their friend. You can’t be a friend until you spend time together. You can’t become a group with people until you have enough time to be with them.
- Sharing the gospel requires a new language and a willingness to learn as we go. We’ve learned a new vocabulary for witnessing. We’ve talked about phrases like “person of peace,” an unreached person in your life who serves, welcomes, and loves you. We’ve discussed neighbor as a verb, not a noun. We’ve discussed what it means to do life as a group and all the dynamics both words involve. We’ve counted conversations and not conversions as evidence of our faithfulness and success throughout the process.
- The groups that sustain and continue to meet began with a common interest in life. They were already golfing together or shared a musical talent. They built on that relationship and have naturally begun to share Jesus with others.
- Many groups are short term, but they give birth to something unexpected. A moms book club sparked an idea in one of our leaders to form a group of moms at church. Now on Wednesday nights, moms meet together to share life and talk about issues in their families. This group would not have formed without a start in a Life Group.
- Two of our groups have already multiplied. The GriefShare group that began at church now offers an offsite meeting at Westminster Oaks. The knitting group that meets at the church has now grown and expanded to multiple groups. Each group reaches women that do not attend our church.
- Participants have used these groups to invite people to church. Many of our guests at church at Christmas and Easter were the result of Life Group ministry.
- We have offered ongoing leadership training. I have huddled with leaders on Wednesday nights and Thursday afternoons over the last 9 months. We’ve learned 8 principles of discipleship, prayed with each other, and encouraged one another. I’ve been inspired by their work, and these folks are trained now to lead future huddles of Life Group leaders.
This Sunday, you’ll have the opportunity to hear a testimony from Valerie Roberts. She and her husband Jeremy joined our church this year, and Valerie is passionate about apartment community Life Groups. Through her initiative, we have an open door to start Life Groups in local apartment communities in Tallahassee. You’re invited to come to the EQUIP training on May 17 from 12:30-3:30 to hear her presentation and learn more about the program. For those interested in relocating, we will be able to help place you in one of these apartment communities. Others not able to move but willing to help can be a part of a team of folks building relationships and connecting the community in these homes. If you know of someone moving to Tallahassee or looking for a place to live, this apartment ministry would be a great opportunity to live on mission for Christ while also establishing a home in our city.
You may also catch a vision for starting a Life Group with your friends, neighbors, and colleagues. All you need to do is sign up for EQUIP training and contact Josh Hall. Simply go to the Life Groups page on our website.
We have not yet fully completed one year of the Life Group ministry, and we have another full year to go before we can thoroughly evaluate this effort. We already know God is using this effort in creative ways to reach people for Christ.
Continue to pray for God to use these Life Groups for his glory.