We have gone through an incredible evolution with our small group ministry over the last 12+ years. When we first started our church back in 1996, we talked a lot about having a small group ministry and the importance of it. We eventually forge out a strategy to call our small groups simply our “cell groups.”
We faithfully built our cell group ministry for years and then, due to the terror cell group movement that became more prominent in the news and also, thanks to Osama Bin Laden, we ended up changing our cell group name back to small groups. Can you imagine inviting someone to check out our “cell group” (and saying it with a smile on our face)?
But the struggle we faced in the last 5+ year is that we started to get people who came to our church will all different views of “small group” ministry. Due to their experiences in the past, whenever people heard of the word, “small group” they would automatically associate it with a “bible study” group or a “social gathering” of people.
It was very frustrating for us since we wanted to build up a culture that really saw “small groups” more than just a bible study and a social hang out place. In fact, we have lost some people in our church because their vision for small group did not match with ours.
But after this filtering process, the staff and I have come to this overwhelming decision that we need to recast the vision for biblical community that has always been our “bread and butter.”
Since names are important, we have decided to name our small group ministry to LIFE Group ministry.
This idea came from couple of verses that God used to speak to us. In Jn 14:6, Jesus declared “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Even the Apostle John testified to Jesus being the life by writing, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (Jn 1:1-4).
This life that Jesus offered was more explicitly mentioned in Jn 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The NKJV says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
The Greek word for “abundant” is perisseia, which means “an exceeding measure, something above the ordinary.” When it is used in the adjective it means, “superabundant (in quantity) or superior (in quality)”
This is the kind of life we want to experience and this is the kind of life that will draw people to our community and eventually to Christ. We notice the power of this kind of life in Ac 2:42-47, which gives us a good description of what the earlier church experienced. Their community transformed the known world at their time.
Therefore, the mission statement for HMCC’s LIFE Groups will be: “To experience the fullness of life in a biblical community where the Gospel is radically lived out.” In order for us to live out the Gospel in a radically way we will need to remember the importance of LIFE:
1) A life of LOVE
2) A life of INVESTMENT
3) A life of FAITH
4) A life of ENJOYMENT
I will be unpackaging some of these concepts in the near future. But in the meantime, I have asked some of the people in our church to start using “LIFE Groups” instead of “small groups.” Also, I reminded people that the most powerful way for this to stick in people’s minds and hearts is when we, the people of God, live out the Gospel in a radical way in the context of biblical community, where people are demonstrating the fullness of life that Christ has purchased for us.
I hope you will join one of our LIFE Groups and experience life the way Jesus intended for us to experience.