I have been having conversations with our advisory board the last few weeks about the best way to go about groups for Living Water Church. Through those conversations at times I have felt completely overwhelmed and confused; with a lack of clear vision for what we need to do. We know as a Leadership Team that we want to be in community and that we want all of you to be in community with others. We know that there is something missing from the traditional bible study method and something just doesn’t seem to be connecting with the contemporary small group method. That has left us in this very interesting predicament - either we create an extremely rigid process that everyone has to follow or we open up multiple “on ramps” in various stages and place the ownership on the entire body for how this community takes shape.
We have decided that rigid doesn’t work. While it sounds nice as leaders to force everyone to do it “our way” it would never produce the kind of spiritual fruit we would be striving for it to produce. Below I’m going to outline for you where we stand and how we are going to move forward - with the expectation of 100% participation from all of us.
Living Water Groups
We believe that we can’t GO to church, but rather we ARE the church. It makes no sense for you to ask me about the Windsor’s and for me to respond with we gather for dinner at 6pm on Sunday. So the same is true that the church is not defined by its gathering, but rather by its people.
We would like to intentionally change the language from we go to church on Sunday to a mindset that your weekly group - where you eat, pray, grow and serve together is a better expression of what Jesus created church to be in the first place. Therefore, as best we can, we would like for your group to be “church” and for the weekend service to be a gathering of all of those “churches.”
We believe that every group should be an Intentional Discipling Enviroment. That means that in every group we have there will be a focused and intentional plan for the discipleship of the members of the group. It is important that you know the end goal with discipleship: The mark of a truly developed Christ follower (understanding that we are always developing, no one has arrived at holiness) is that they begin to disciple others. So every group has a plan to send out developed disciples to disciple others. This truly is the best evangelistic approach that we can have. Nothing would bring me more joy than to know that someone accepted Christ in your living room, got baptized in your neighborhood pool and was discipled to the point of starting their own intentional discipling enviroment.
THAT GETS ME EXCITED!!!
We will be starting three different group types that I would like you to begin praying about leading within:
1) Explore Groups
2) Develop Groups
3) Influence Groups
These groups are intentionally designed with the non-believer in mind. Understanding that they have many questions about the Christian faith and about Jesus. These groups seek to create an environment where those questions are welcome and where they will not be judged or looked down on. As a church we have approved two curriculums for these type of environments.
1) Alpha: https://alphausa.org/
2) Starting Point by Andy Stanley
Both of these curriculums do a phenomenal job of setting the stage for exploring your faith. If you have a passion for engaging the lost and helping them find Jesus you need to lead one of these groups! You will never feel truly fulfilled inside the local church until you are using the spiritual gift of evangelism that God has put inside you. If you are a more relational leader I’d say Alpha will be your preference, if you are more of a teacher you will probably like Starting Point. This is a highly relational ministry for people to have honest conversations.
Once someone has begun their faith journey, we have created an online learning tool called Get Grounded that you can send to them or watch alongside them. You can also sign up by texting the word follow to 316-395-9232 and it will email you daily with the next video to watch.
This is where things get a little dicey. It seems everyone has a sure fire way to develop others in their faith and their idea is the best!! I am personally in a develop group on Tuesday mornings with a group of men that are going through a curriculum called Followers Made and it is incredible!
Here’s the bottom line, if you are going to lead a Develop Group: It has to be an IDE (Intentional Discipling Environment). We would love to help you discover what that looks like for you. Our goal would be to see 5-10 of these develop-type groups start within the next 90 days.
If either of the above are something you would like to discuss or even commit to please email Kyle.Peoples@livingwaterchurch.tv and let him know you would like to explore leading a group!
We will hold a training session for everyone ready to lead in this ministry as soon as we have everyone signed up!
Once you have successfully led a group that has sent out disciples that are now discipling others, you will likely be identified to go through an Influencer Group and eventually could be leading your own group of influencers. :) Who knows what God has in store for you!
I love you!! And I cannot wait for you to hear from my mentor Mike Grubbs Sunday night at our gathering!