5Groups – Questions and Answers
This past Sunday we continued to discuss the application of our purpose and vision for Eagle Heights. We discussed the importance and priority of:
- The Large Group Gathering. This is the time that our local church gathers to proclaim the gracious truth of God’s word, and also to honor God’s word by hearing it explained and proclaimed for exhortation. We honor God by prioritizing gathering, singing, praying, fellowship, hearing God’s word preached and then going to the world to follow Christ in all of life. This glorifies God and we should not forsake this time (Hebrews 10:24-25).
- Core Groups or Small Groups. These are smaller meetings in which people can know and be known; love and be loved. These groups allow people to care for others and be cared for. Yes, there will be content and accountability to God’s word and each other, but this is the place for people to build relationships to share life. So if someone has a spiritual or physical need, this is the gathering within the larger gathering that should know of it first.
- 5Groups. These groups are called 5Groups because they will be five to six people in size and have five essential components. First, we expect all of these groups to have Bible-reading discipleship. God’s Spirit uses God’s word to shape God’s people for God’s mission in all of life, and so the Bible must be central. We want groups to read through books or sections of the Bible. Second, we expect each group to be multi-generational. We need the life experience of others. Third, we expect that there will be honest gender-specific sharing. Men and women are both created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28), but God also created men and women unique and with that uniqueness comes strengths and weaknesses. We want men and women to be able share honestly about their specific struggles so that we can help each other follow Christ. Fourth, we expect committed attendance for a defined time. It’s easier to commit to something when you know the length of the commitment. Fifth. These groups are designed to be simple and reproducible. This is also why we want each group to have a defined length of time for meeting. We want to multiply courageous, Bible-reading followers of Christ in all of life. We want to raise up disciple-makers. Each group will be asked to plant new groups at the end of their time.
In response to the introduction of 5Groups this past Sunday, we received some questions and also realized there may have been some things we were not able to address. Here are some questions that were asked and some questions that may have been wondered but not expressed.
- Why do we need these groups? Aren’t we already doing these things in Core Groups? Yes, in some ways we are doing similar things. However, the uniqueness of 5Groups is that they champion a multi-generational, gender specific approach to discipleship, which makes them different than our larger Core Groups. These groups are absorbing and streamlining much of what the men’s and women’s ministry have done in the past. Also, we think the smallness of the groups (5-6) will allow more men and women to participate because they can meet at times that are convenient for those who join a group. Additionally, we believe this is the best way to multiply Bible-reading disciples who can help others do the same. Multiplication is something that is not natural or easy for most people. We like to be comfortable and hold on to what we have. These groups are designed to multiply, whereas Core Groups often stay together longer for the sake of continuity. Core Groups are gender-mixed. 5Groups are gender-specific. All 5Groups read the Bible systematically. Core Groups do a variety of materials. 5Groups are for a defined time for multiplication. Core Groups are ongoing. Core Groups are harder to replicate because the leader likely has to be gifted at teaching. 5Groups are more discussion oriented with some direction from the facilitator. 5Groups are capped at about 6 people. Core Groups are larger and may not be as intimate and may not give other people a chance to participate. So as you can see, both groups have their own strengths and weaknesses, but they both are designed to emphasize different outcomes.
- Aren’t we just attempting to program discipleship? Isn’t this just another thing to do? Yes. But what is a program? Isn’t it just a plan to do something? Unfortunately many programs become the end instead of the means. Or the program becomes a distraction to what is important because the organization is focused on running and staffing the program instead of thinking about what its purpose is. So yes, this is a program, but it is a life-on-life effort to get people to read God’s word, hear God’s word and honor Jesus by obeying all He commands. It’s also important to remember that this wasn’t born out of meetings, but out of life experience and doing it with people. We have tested these groups for over a year and believe them to be ready for full implementation.
- What about all the other things we do? How do they fit? Everything we do should be done to make disciples for God’s glory. A disciple is someone who is surrendered to Christ in all of life and helps others to do the same. Whether it is Children’s Ministry, Youth Ministry, UPWARD, Celebrate Recovery, missions, community outreach or whatever we do; the goal is discipleship for God’s glory. This is how we love people because knowing and following Jesus is the only way to experience eternal fullness of joy. Ministries like Children’s Ministry and Celebrate Recovery are specialized ministries that help people to be disciples in unique seasons of life.
- What about evangelism? Where does it fit? We will continue to do occasional events like UPWARD, Trunk-or-Treat, Experience Easter, etc. But the ongoing evangelism ministry of the church is for people to gather and be shaped by the gospel and then go into the world, making disciples of all men. “Wait”, someone might say, “I asked about evangelism!” Yes, evangelism is a part of the discipleship path. You can’t be a true disciple without being a real Christian. So we want people to be bold for Jesus in their neighborhood, at work, at Wal-Mart, etc. As a matter of fact, you could use One-to-One Bible reading that is modeled in 5Groups to share the gospel. These groups were not designed specifically for evangelism, but as a part of discipleship they can be used to do evangelism. As a matter of fact, they have been used by some to share the gospel in a non-threatening, exploratory way. Pray for relationships to go and speak of Jesus, wherever you are.
- Can youth participate? We think it is great if youth want to participate in one of these groups, provided they are mature enough to have serious gender-specific conversations.
- How do I start or get in a group? There are Connection Point events coming up in the next few weeks that will help connect you to a group. The Ladies’ Fall Fellowship on Sept. 11th, the With the Church Conference for university students Sept. 18-19, and Relationship Sunday Sept. 20th. If you are unable to make it to one of those events where they will be discussing 5 Groups, come to the Connection Center or mark your Connection Card to indicate your interest. If you want to lead a group, we ask that you first participate in a group before you lead one. We want you to be in a group and see it before you lead one. We ask this because we want to make sure that every group understands and emphasizes the 5 essential components. Here’s the rub though: these are new so we don’t yet have a lot of these groups, and on the women’s side of things, they are having to start from the ground up.
- Please be patient. Because we are starting these from the group up, it will take time to have enough groups for everyone to participate. It may take years to get going full speed. But we are committed to a certain methodology to make sure the groups are fulfilling the purpose we created them for. So if you have to wait to get in a group, pray for patience and participate actively in the worship gathering and a Core Group and serve in the many other specialty ministries and occasional ministries we have going. Change and growth take time.
This is a work in progress and we will need to make adjustments, but we are committed to Glorifying God together by trusting Jesus and obeying all He commands. We will do this by: Trusting God’s Word. Loving God’s People. Living God’s Mission. Will you join us?