I know its been a LONG time since I posted for this series (two full quarters to be exact)…. but school is almost on break again so here we go!
Pattern 1: Connecting (Steps for Your Group)
Hey friends, I know it’s been a while since I last posted something to this series. I won’t make any excuses but….(insert excuse for laziness here). So last time I talked about getting chased by homeless people and about Lifegroups and stuff. Do you remember what we talked about? Yeah we talked about the phases of “connecting.” If you recall there are three phases: 1-Meet, 2-Commit, 3-Belong. In the Meet phase people treat the meeting, well, like a meeting (duh). Its pretty superficial. The Commit phase gets a bit deeper though. In this phase the members of your group will begin to show interest in each others lives and they might begin to connect inside and out of group. Finally there was the Belong phase, when they begin to move from being friends to being family then you know you have reached the belong phase. So where is your group at? Are you in the Meet phase, Commit phase, or the Belong phase? As you try to figure that out let me give you some helpful tips for moving forward along the connecting continuum.
Phase 1 – Meet
- Conduct a Good Meeting: This sounds obvious right? But here is what I mean, there are things that we seek to accomplish in our meetings. We seek to encounter Christ, to connect with one another in community, and to be on mission together. Incorporate these elements into your group (as the Spirit leads) and you will have a “good” meeting. But there other elements of having a good meeting: its comfortable and people feel safe to share. If you have a nice comfortable room with nice comfortable seats people will be more likely to come back than if the room is 100 degrees and you are sitting on a wet carpet (that sounds like the intern house….). Also if people in the group feel like its safe to share their thoughts then discussion will be more lively, and engaging. Lively conversation will help people connect at this level.
- Give People Responsibilities: This is such a good tip (and not because I am giving it) but the truth is that when people contribute to the group, they develop a sense of ownership. Ask someone to write down the prayers. Ask someone else to bring snacks. Ask someone to open up/close the prayers. As they get more and more involved they will begin to feel as the group really is theirs! If they feel like the group is theirs they will be more likely to commit to the group and less likely to bail.
- Pray for Eachother: Most people will open up during prayer time way more than they would during any other time during the Lifegroup. As the group begins you need to know that some of the prayers will be superficial, but as they get used to sharing their prayers with one another they will begin to get deeper and as a result each person will be exposing their heart a little bit more. On another note, follow up on the requests. Call them, text them, facebook them (in a private message). This displays that you really do care about their prayer requests.
Phase 2 – Commit
- Hang Out: Here is an axiom of Lifegroups – Building quality relationships takes time. Why not spend that time doing something fun. Have a BBQ. Go to the movies. Play some Settlers of Catan. Maybe go get some Diddy Riese then evangelize Westwood! Whatever you do know that hanging out together outside of Lifegroup gives you more opportunities to build stronger relationships. Think of it like a romantic relationship, if the couple never hangs out the relationship isn’t going anywhere. It’s the same with Lifegroups, if you don’t hang out the relationships are going nowhere.
- Break off into Smaller Groups: One of the things that my group does during prayer times is break off into smaller groups. This can really help build stronger relationships because you get a chance to get more intimate with a few people. Think about it…. If you don’t break off during prayer time you could share a prayer to the whole group and someone could say a general prayer for you at the end of prayer time after everyone has shared OR you could share with 1 or 2 people and they can pray for you personally on the spot. Which one of these scenarios do you think will help build a deeper relationship? Not to mention that if you break of into smaller groups you will have more time to share than if you waited for everyone in the whole Lifegroup to share.
Phase 3 – Belong
- Serve Together: A while ago at our 6 hour long Lifegroup Training I talked about Alan Hirsch’s concept of Communitas. Communitas is the type of community that is built around a common goal or mission. Its deeper than community…. Its Communitas! A great example of communitas is the movie Saving Private Ryan; the soldiers were not a community until they centered themselves around the mission of saving private Ryan. Besides the movie can you think of another example of communitas? I can think of one: short-term mission trips. After serving together with someone for a week (or a weekend) don’t you feel like you have know that person forever? Like a really deep bond has been formed? I know that I have experienced that before. That is communitas. In my personal opinion articulating a common mission and goal for your Lifegroup will be the best thing you can do to strengthen the level of connecting. So what are some things that you could center your Lifegroup around? What goals or mission could your Lifegroup adopt? I would recommend praying and asking God what he wants for your specific Lifegroup since all Lifegroups will be different.
- Prophetic Prayer: Yes prophetic prayer. Catch this, I don’t mean tell eachother the future (that is just plain wrong). I mean listen to the Spirit then speak God’s truth into one another. This will certainly draw the members of the group together. A few weeks ago I spoke about this in regard to Colossians 3:12-17. I said that out of our identity as chosen, holy, and dearly loved we are to encourage one another with the Word of Christ. Incorporate this into your group and watch how God will begin to grow your heart for the other people in your group. Constantly be reminding one another of your identity in Christ. Constantly pray those truths over one another and what will happen is that the person that is getting prayed for will grow and the person doing the prayer will also be reminded of her position in Christ.
Hopefully these tips helped! After all it’s my heart that God would grow our sense of community in Lifegroups. I am confident that as we grow deeper in community we will better display God’s love and God’s heart for his people, and nothing is more attractive that God’s own heart! Hopefully as you grow closer together, non-Christians will be able to see what true community looks like and they will begin to long for that. As they see that invite them into the community, don’t force them to change before they are welcomed! Welcome them in, speak truth in love, and watch God work on their hearts. I am confident that if we do that we will see so many people come to Jesus through our Lifegroups as Soma!