WHY LIFEGROUPS ARE ESSENTIAL FOR A GROWING CHURCH

WHY LIFEGROUPS ARE ESSENTIAL FOR A GROWING CHURCH

By: Jake Ferguson

Many would agree, LifeGroups within the church foster growth and community on a much deeper level than that of any given Sunday.  Just as any great house, the essential ingredient to its standing is its foundation.  Or, the accuracy of a bullet, rests upon the proficiency of its marksman.  The same is true for growing churches; that relationships are lived out in the context of biblical community to raise up disciples who make disciples.

If you were to ask 100 people what they thought about LifeGroups and why they are essential, you may find yourself 100 different responses.  LifeGroups do have varying goals and objectives, but most groups—if not all—contribute to the achievement of one or more of the following objectives:

The Development of Spiritual Maturity

Fellowship Among Members

Ministry Within and Outside the Group

A LifeGroup by itself is not the main contributor of the growth of a church or its members.  It is the community of believers within the group who extend the Gospel to one another inside and outside of the group to maintain and advance Christ’s Kingdom.

The three objectives listed above, faithfully lived out, and extended towards others are the qualities and traits that make LifeGroups so essential to the growth of the church.  Spiritual maturity among members of each group in conjunction with biblical fellowship will lead to ministry within and outside of the group environment.  LifeGroups are not a self-contained bubble of believers that repel everything on the outside, but instead, a family who comes together to reach others in a way that resembles that of Christ and His earthly ministry and to faithfully live out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

Every Sunday we hear a wonderful message that challenges each listener in his or her own walk with the Lord.  Families are being loved on, new attendees are being welcomed and encouraged to be placed in their sweet spot, people are responding in faith by the moving of the Holy Spirit, and various ministries are reaching lost souls and growing disciples.  But all these things do not happen just on a Sunday morning: they’re happening in people’s homes during LifeGroup!  LifeGroups also help to equip and prepare believers to grow in their discipleship process.  Whether a believer has been saved for a month or fifty years, doing life together in biblical community and fellowship can sharpen anyone through every step of the way in their walk with Christ.  Spiritual maturity, fellowship with believers, and ministering to others is a heavy responsibility that all Christians are commanded to take part in.  It is essential for the church.  The church is the bride of Christ and we are to be His disciples by being the hands and feet of the Great Commission.

LifeGroups help members of the church to be loved into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, equipping them for the mission at hand, pleasing and glorifying to God, to GO in the community, our nation, and to the ends of the world.

BUILDING MOMENTUM THIS SUMMER

BUILDING MOMENTUM THIS SUMMER

SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE:

By: Megan Saurman

As LifeGroup Leaders we are discipling our LifeGroup members into growth, a slow purposeful steady incline of spiritual maturity to help them reach a goal of taking the next step into starting a LifeGroup themselves. As we witness to them about what being a LifeGroup Leader looks like we are building momentum with them about what God can do in their lives through community, prayers, daily reading, and serving. In order to reach that goal, we have to be consistently plugging them into the joy & momentum about what taking a step-in faith is all about. You have spent months investing into your LifeGroup so it’s important to not lose what you have gained with them in the busy Summertime shuffle.

So how do we keep the momentum up over the Summer with our LifeGroup? How do we remind them that Summer is also for Next Steps and continuing to keep a steady pace in growing closer to God? Here are a few practical ways to keep the energy high and the momentum building during Summer before our Fall LifeGroups kickoff:

  1. It’s hard to be motivated or have momentum if we are spiritually thirsty. Maintaining a healthy soul is key over the Summer, so check in and make sure they aren’t spiritually parched:
  • Ask them what they are reading daily or what podcasts they have enjoyed over Summer. Share what you have enjoyed.
  • Ask them if they have plugged into other churches while traveling to visit friends and family, if any sermon stood out to them.  Mention any sermon you heard that stood out to you as well.
  • Ask them what their prayers have looked like lately and if you could join with them in praying for a need to be met.

2. Send texts, or post on your LifeGroup Facebook page about what your church is doing over the Summer. Ask them if they plan on attending the events that church is asking our community to volunteer for or participate in. See if they would like to meet your family there to catch up.

 

3. As your members take Next Steps (listed below) over the Summer make a big deal celebrating this with your LifeGroup

  • Being baptized
  • Going on a mission trip
  • Attending the Belong class
  • Tithing for the first time
  • Joining a serve team
  • Starting their own LifeGroup in the Fall

Remember, momentum is contagious, and as a LifeGroup Leader it starts with YOU.

SUMMER WITH LIFEGROUP’S

SUMMER WITH LIFEGROUP’S

SUMMER BREAK DOSEN’T MEAN STOP FOR THE SUMMER

by: Megan Saurman

As LifeGroup Leaders we have zeal and passion to pour into the families or individuals within our LifeGroups. Eager to help with any task, answer every text message, spend quality time teaching God’s word and praying over our attendees earnestly. We are totally invested, sold out even, in this calling on our lives. Each session of LifeGroups we strive to keep up that intentionality, those relationships, the level of connection within our LifeGroup. Our LifeGroups calendar at FBCJax purposely takes a break in the Summer so LifeGroup Leaders can spiritually refuel and get re-energized. We encourage you to do so.

Let me also ask you a question though, how do you stay connected to your LifeGroup throughout Summer even when you aren’t consecutively meeting? How do you share your lives while you travel on Summer vacation, do house projects, bring new additions into the family? To so many new people who are transitioning into our town, and starting your LifeGroup you are the only source of fellowship they may have. So how can you take a break yet make them plugged in and still cared for while still taking a little you time?

Allow Summer to give you a break and much-needed rest but also allow it to bring your LifeGroup closer by changing the dynamic of how you communicate and the location of where you hang out together. Need some practical ideas? Here are some great ways to connect and stay close to your LifeGroup over the Summer:

  • Create a Facebook group page. If you haven’t already, create a closed group page for your LifeGroup. This is a great way to share prayer requests, share praise reports, schedule get-togethers and share pictures of what’s happening in your Summer.

 

  • Meet for an outdoor activity. Summer gives us a great opportunity to spend time outdoors and out of the normal setting with our LifeGroup. The beach, pool, local splash pad, concerts on the lawn, and youth sports activities all make for great places to gather your LifeGroup together for fellowship time while still taking advantage of the warm weather.

 

  • Host an event once during Summer. This can be a BBQ, a birthday party, even a game night. It gives everyone a chance to see each other, catch up, and also see each other in a laid back atmosphere.

 

  • Have a swap weekend. If you have a family LifeGroup see if the men can watch the kids one day while the ladies go out and vice versa. This gives you one on one time to become closer and to share a specific outing with your LifeGroup.
WHEN WE MISS CHURCH – OUR KIDS COULD MISS THE MOST

WHEN WE MISS CHURCH – OUR KIDS COULD MISS THE MOST

A few weeks ago, I ran into one of our church members at Lowe’s. They began by stating how sorry they were for not being at church last weekend. They explain that another function conflicted with church and they had to miss. But they were very thankful that we have our sermons online for them to watch in case they are not able to attend. They were right. Online sermons and online worship experiences are a great way for families to stay connected when they are away for a weekend. There have been countless times in my life when I have been away from home that I rely on online worship services to help keep me fed while I am away.

Then it hit me… What about our kids? How do our kids stay fed while we are on the go? The reality is when parents miss a worship weekend so do our kids. While parents can stay “caught up” via video, our kids could miss the most when we miss church. They miss their large group and their small groups. So, how can we ensure our kids don’t miss the most when we miss church?

1. Remembering that church isn’t a replacement for home. If you’re reading this blog, you most likely agree. The local church was never intended to be a replacement for home discipleship. To say it another way, what happens at church is not more important than what happens in the home. Our desire at FBCJAX (and many other churches) is to help parents restore their home as the primary arena for discipleship in the lives of their kids. Church programs or ministries should never replace family worship and discipleship. So how can we ensure that our kids don’t miss the most when we miss? By having regular faith conversations at home.

2. Read Scripture and Pray: Try not to overcomplicate it. Grab your favorite Bible, read a few passages, talk about what it means, then pray over them and with them. In case you don’t have a Bible you enjoy reading, here are a few good options.

  • Preschool & Children: The Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook from The Gospel Project: Click HERE to purchase
  • Children: The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones :Click HERE to purchase
  • Students: ESV Student Study Bible: Click HERE to purchase
  • Adults: ESV Study Bible: Click HERE to purchase

3. Attend another church: When you’re away, find a local church and visit. Although rare, my family loves to visit other churches when we are away. We love to worship with believers who do church different than us. It’s also a great experience for our kids to show them that there is not one right way to do church.

4. Use the Parent Cue App: Over a year ago, our church partnered with the Parent Cue App to help us equip parents. The parent Cue simply gives parents a blueprint for how to have faith conversations with your kids. You can read more about how to use the Parent Cue, HERE.

5. Have a conversation about what they are thankful for and why. Don’t overthink this one. Every night (well… almost every night) we gather our boys around their beds and ask them what are they thankful for. Sometimes they give one word, off the wall answers. Other times they give dissertations about God’s greatness. Then we pray and thank God for all that He has provided and for who He is. Even if you’re not able to be at church you are able to have Gospel conversations.

6. Perform a Random Act of Kindness: Sometimes it’s not what you hear it’s what you do that means the most. No matter where you are, you find someone to serve as a family. Here are some ideas; pay for someone’s laundry at a coin laundry, pick up trash at a public place, hand out bottles of water or ask someone if you can pray for them.

Here are just a few suggestions, what are some ways that you ensure your kids don’t miss out even when you miss church?

MEET MARK

MEET MARK

 

This weekend our church welcomed our newest team member, Mark Young. Mark was affirmed as the Children’s Minister for our Central Campus. We are extremely excited to have Mark and his family apart of our FBCJAX family. 

 

 

In case you did not have a chance to meet Mark and his wife, here is a 30k flyover. First, Mark has been married to Rachel for 18 years. They have three kids, Abigail, Caleb and Ethan, who are triplets and are all 14 years old. Mark has been serving within the local church since the mid 90’s as a small group/Sunday school teacher. In 2003, Mark surrendered his life to full-time ministry.  He then left his corporate career of 20 years in finance and became a Minister to Children and Young Families.

 

Mark will be responsible for leading our FirstKids team and environments at our central campus. He will work with our already incredible team to continue in partnering with families to disciple the next generation. Mark will be a great addition to our Family Ministry Team and we are looking forward to how God uses his passions and gifts to advance the Gospel in the next generation. 

Here is a quick note from Mark,

“Rachel and I are so excited, honored, and humbled to be a part of the FBCJax family. I am looking forward to seeing what God has planned for the children and families through this amazing opportunity to be your Children’s Minister. Thank you for the warm welcome you have already given to our family. I can’t wait to get started.”  

Please be praying for Mark and his family as they begin their transition from Texas to NC. 
PARENTING WITH GRACE IN MIND

PARENTING WITH GRACE IN MIND

Last weekend I had the honor of preaching at our church (www.fbcjax.net) about how grace shapes our parenting. As many of you know, I love every opportunity that I have to preach the Gospel. Although I was excited, I was also extremely nervous. See, sometimes you preach about a truth that you have learned or have experienced and other times you are preaching about something you are learning and are experiencing. In this case, this sermon was a reflection of what God is currently teaching me and my family. By no means have I perfected how to parent through the lens of grace. Instead, this is an area that God is shaping me in how I love my kids.

This conversation started several weeks ago when I began asking myself this question, “when my kids grow up, will they know how gracious their heavenly father is, by the way, their earthly father parent’s them?” Another way I asked this question was, “do my kids see the grace of God in my parenting or just the discipline of God?” Discipline is essential in Godly parents but so is grace. So how do we balance those two and why is parenting with grace in mind so important?

THE LENS THAT YOU PARENT THROUGH TODAY WILL BE THE LENS THEY SEE GOD THROUGH TOMORROW Click To Tweet

The parent/child relationship is the most important earthly relationship our kids will experience. Everyone is affected, for the positive or negative based on the type of relationships that we experience with our parents. For example; I am a Clemson Tigers fan, #goTigers. Why? I did not go to Clemson. I was not raised near Clemson. I am a Clemson fan because my mom and dad were. Their passions became my passion. When our kids see what we are passionate about they will likely become passionate about those same things. The way that we parent them now will affect the way that they see God in the future. This is why it’s so important for our parenting to be saturated with grace. Because the lens that you parent through today will be the lens they see God through tomorrow.

So how can we parent with Grace in mind? Here are a few points that we talked about this weekend and a few that we did not.

#1: IDENTIFY THEIR HEART, NOT JUST THEIR BEHAVIOR:

Parenting behavior comes naturally by our actions are easier to identify than our hearts desires. Our actions present themselves and we have to have conversations about the heart. So how? Before we issue consequences we have a conversation about their “why”. Consequence’s and discipline are essential in biblical parenting. I have found that consequences are most productive when they follow a conversation about their hearts desires that lead them to act out.

#2: ENCOURAGE TRANSPARENCY OVER PERFORMANCE:

Parenting with grace in mind means that we give them room to make mistakes. Kids/Teens are going to mess up and this does not mean that we let them off the hook but parenting with grace in mind does mean that we create the home as a safe place to have conversations about their struggles and failures. Grace parenting gives kids the freedom to stop performing for you and to start being transparent with you. If we don’t give our kids room to make mistakes, how do we expect them to talk to you when they are struggling with their identity, or cutting or purity or doubting God? The danger is they will never feel comfortable talking with me about their sins and their struggles because they are constantly worried that they have broken one of my rules, they have let me down or that they will never live up to my standards. My ultimate desire for my children is not compliance to my standards, it’s to experience the same grace that I have experienced. And the lens that we parent through has a direct impact on how they see the grace of God.

#3: TEACH THEM THE GOSPEL:

In my life, the best way to parent with grace in mind is to have regular conversations with my kids about the Gospel. We have conversations when we are in the truck on the way to school, on the way to soccer practice, at nights and when they mess up (Deut. 6). We are constantly talking about how much Jesus loved us despite our ability to be perfect or to earn a relationship with to Him. The more we have Gospel conversations the more our kids will see the grace of God in our lives. After all, our parenting substance is an overflow of our worship substance. One of the tools that we use to help families talk about the Gospel with their kids is the Parent Cue App. You can download it HERE or read about how to use it HERE.

I would love to hear some of the ways that you parent with grace in mind. Thanks!

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