by Pastor Drew Conley
Losing the sense of connection is not good for any member or family in the church. In smaller churches these relationships tend to form more naturally and may not require formal, intentional structure. In a larger church we must work diligently to make sure no one is left out.
Some of you have such relationships here at church, but many do not, and we all desperately need them. We have a little over 200 in prayer meeting, 65 in LifeGroups, 100 in Ladies' Bible Study, and a small group in Men's Bible Study. When you look at the total number of people involved with the smaller venues, excepting Sunday School (which is primarily focused on teaching), it is apparent that we are not meeting the need of the majority of our church family to connect with one another for meaningful discipleship, prayer, applications, and accountability. And we are hearing from those who are drifting away how much they need these connections. We believe we have to make a concerted effort to facilitate improvement in this crucial area of church health. We have more ground work and then training leaders this summer, and our intent is to launch LifeGroups in earnest by the fall.
If you’ve already found what advances discipleship, prayer, and relationships in your life, by all means continue. As we’ve looked at our church needs and methods available to us in our current culture, we do believe LifeGroups create an effective means of connecting that is very valuable and that needs facilitating. This is not just as another meeting, but as a way of making sure one-anothering happens on a regular, meaningful basis. We’re not trying to conform to a new trend (actually an age-old method), but to meet an obvious need.
Our schedules are tight, with school, work, and family responsibilities so groups meet at different times of the week. For some, Wednesday evenings really are the only time that works with their schedule. Some will be in the prayer meeting that meets in the Activities Center, some will be in their LifeGroups. That’s okay! Because all will be praying, all will have opportunity to be connecting for the sake of meaningful discipleship relationships. The point is not so much the method as the purpose, the healthy church culture. Some will choose prayer meetings here at church, some will find the LifeGroup prayer and discipleship in homes better suited. We want prayer, discipleship, and relationships for encouragement and accountability to multiply not divide. No spirit of “I am of Paul, I am of Apollos.” Multiplication, not division! Stability, strengthening of relationships, not fragmentation or polarization!
We need more praying together, not less. We need more discipleship, not less, more living out the truth we learn from the Scriptures, more strong relationships to encourage and exhort one another to live for Jesus, and to meet the needs we find when we draw close to one another in love. We want to be “standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27). Open Arms. Helping Hands. One-Anothering with the love of Christ and to His praise.This kind of one-anothering must go on in any healthy church.