THE VISION OF LIFE GROUPS Imagine having two close friends in Christ with whom you meet regularly to read the Word of God, share daily struggles, celebrate graces, and pray for each other. Your relationship is not mainly about how well you perform, but about how imperfect people cling to a perfect Christ, growing in the Spirit, and increasingly walking like Jesus walked. As those who are known and loved by God, you are helping each other to fight the fight to believe and apply the gospel to every aspect of life. Itâ€™s a relationship where you can share your faith and your doubt, your obedience and your stumbling. You are regularly speaking the truth to each other in love and growing in your love for Christ. And this group of yours, your Life Group, is joined with the wider Redeemer family, together increasingly equipped to help the whole body build itself up in the love and grace of God, embracing the Great Commission.
LIFE GROUPS DEFINED WHAT IS A DISCIPLE? At its core meaning, to be a disciple means to be a follower and a learner. Jesus Christ is our savior, master, and Lord. Being his disciple is the life-long process of following Him, submitting to Him, learning from Him, and becoming like Him. But being a disciple doesn’t start with something we DO. It starts with something that He DID. The foundation of discipleship is the gospel itself…before we even existed, in eternity past, God chose us, not by anything we could do, but out of sheer love and grace for sinners such as us. He planned to send His Son on a rescue mission with us in mind. And that rescue involved Christ’s perfect obedience being lavishly put on our account, and it involved His Son brutally crucified on the Cross, facing the wrath of God that we deserved, and bearing away our sin. This is the foundation for Christian discipleship, and IT IS FINISHED! A Christian disciple sets out on a path to learn from and follow our gracious Lord, who empowers us through the gospel to love and serve Him, and to love and serve others, to the glory of God. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me…” (Mark 1:17) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10: 27) And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) 2
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WHAT IS DISCIPLESHIP? Discipleship can take many forms and happen in many ways within a church community. It happens formally on Sunday mornings when the Word of God is being preached. But discipleship is more than teaching or preaching. It is also relational. It happens informally through casual conversations in the church foyer or over coffee. It can happen in the workplace and in the home. It certainly happens in Community Groups. But we believe a more intentional and relational approach is greatly needed.
WHAT IS THE GOAL OF DISCIPLESHIP? Discipleship leads us to progressively grow in our understanding of God, the gospel, and its application to our everyday life and relationships, pursuing obedience and the fruit of the spirit. [Jesus] we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. (Colossians 1:28)
WHAT IS A LIFE GROUP? A Life Group at Redeemer is a small group of three followers of Christ who meet together regularly, seeking to be known and loved by God and by each other, going to Godâ€™s word together, bringing the gospel to bear on their daily lives, and praying for each other.
WHATâ€™S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A COMMUNITY GROUP AND A LIFE GROUP? Community Groups are mainly for the purpose of community, discussion, fellowship, relationships, fun, outreach, and multiplication. Life Groups are for digging deeper into how God is at work in your lives, helping each other to grow in grace, applying the gospel to daily life, and pursuing spiritual growth and maturity.
WHO SHOULD BE IN MY LIFE GROUP? We believe that all RBC members should pursue being in a Life Group. Each will consist of a triad, men with men, and women with women. Your triad should consist of people with whom you feel confident that you will be able to be authentic. They can be the same age, but different ages are also really helpful sometimes. Life Group members would not need to necessarily be from your own Community Group. Ideally, we want each church member to take the initiative of connecting with other members that they know and trust to either start a Life Group or join an existing one.
WHAT IF I NEED HELP FINDING A LIFE GROUP TO JOIN? The elders do not typically assign people to Life Groups, but we will help connect members to groups if needed. Ideally, we want each covenant member to take the initiative of connecting with other members to either start a Life Group or join an existing one. We know that this ideal doesnâ€™t always happen, and if members need a little extra help in finding a Life Group, then the leaders are happy to offer some guidance.
WHO WILL LEAD A LIFE GROUP? Life Groups will not have a leader per se. The Life Group model is not one person discipling others in the group. This is a peer-to-peer model. 4
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Each group will have a point-person who is responsible for facilitating, organizing, and reporting back to the leadership about their group. Some Life Groups will have an elder, deacon, or CG leader in them. Some will not. But regardless, every Christian needs discipling.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE LG POINT PERSON? The point-person facilitates the bi-weekly meetings. This means that the point-person is the man or woman who sends the text messages or emails about when and where the Life Group is meeting. This is basic administration. The point-person also guides the discussion at the biweekly meetings. This does not mean teaching. The point-person is not lecturing or leading a Bible study. Instead, they are the voice that opens the time together and serves as rails for the conversation. The point person also lets the church leaders know if there is a particular need of one of the group members that goes beyond what CGs and LGs are able to meet.
WHAT ARE THE PARAMETERS FOR MEETING AS A LIFE GROUP? Life Groups can meet anywhere convenient (coffee shops, restaurants, or homes). They can meet anytime that is convenient to all three members. Generally they should meet for 90 minutes. The elders are proposing that CGs meet twice monthly and LGs meet twice monthly. Please use this link to register your LG: RedeemerBibleChurch.com/ lifegroups.
HOW LONG SHOULD I REMAIN IN A LIFE GROUP? Some LGâ€™s may stay together for years. Others may decide to break up after a time. Each person will be asked to commit to a Life Group for a minimum of six months. Hopefully, most will be in a group for the long-term. Groups will span six months, with April and October as the windows to switch to a new group. The plan is that we hit restart or reset each semester. Life Groups
A personality conflict is certainly not always a good reason to split up. God often sovereignly guides people into our lives who are difficult for us to get along with. But, he often has sanctifying reasons for this, and uses them to bring to light our soul struggles and sins.
ARE THE ELDERS AND DEACONS IN LIFE GROUPS? Yes, we are asking all the leaders of the church to be involved in a Life Group, and most not with each other. We believe it is important for the leadership of the church to be involved in the lives of the congregation.
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WHAT HAPPENS IN A LIFE GROUP? The goal in these Life Group meetings is for us to talk to one another on the heart-level, each of us helping one another to apply the gospel to every nook and cranny of our lives. We want men talking with men about their souls, and we want women talking with women about their souls. (Cities) The ultimate goal is to get to the place of believing the gospel afresh and applying it to every aspect of life, with the fruit being progressive growth and obedience.
MEETINGS SHOULD CONSIST OF THREE MAIN COMPONENTS: 1. The Word When we meet as a triad, getting to the Word of God has to be fundamental. The Bible is our source. Most of the time, this should consist of reading and meditating on Scripture together in a simple fashion that does not require much preparation. There can be seasons where your Life Group could work through a trusted book that is founded on Scripture, but this should be more the exception than the rule.
2. Life Life Group times should include honest and authentic conversations, holding each other lovingly accountable, not for the purpose of condemnation, but for progress and growth in the faith. This consists of sharing personal stories and struggles, asking questions, listening to each other, speaking the truth in love, repenting & confessing sin, listening to the Holy Spirit together, and submitting to one another in love. Life Groups
3. Prayer Members of Life Groups pray for each other after listening carefully to the othersâ€™ needs and struggles. The prayers are from the heart and based on the promises of the Word of God, particularly the passage just studied together. They are compassionate prayers and pleadings with God to change our hearts and, if He wills, our circumstances.
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1. THE WORD HOW SHOULD WE APPROACH BIBLE READING FOR OUR LIFE GROUP? We recommend that you choose a book of the Bible to read together over some months. You could read a whole chapter for each time you meet, or break it into smaller chunks. You could read and discuss it spontaneously in the moment, or you could read it beforehand and jot down some thoughts to bring to the group. Don’t overdo it. Keep it pretty simple. When you are together, spend a portion of your time discussing the text together. The main goal is to understand the basic meaning of it and see how God might be applying it to your heart and life in your current circumstances.
THE ART OF GREAT DISCUSSION • Good discussion involves asking open-ended questions. • Good discussion acknowledges doubts rather than brushing them aside. • Good discussion often asks, “What do you think?” • Good questions are relevant and intriguing. • Good conversationalists don’t pretend to have all the answers. • Good questions dig into the heart of the biblical text to get at its meaning. • Good questions draw off of peoples’ experience, values, and personal faith, challenging them to apply the issue at hand.
• Good discussion doesn’t allow doctrinal issues to become overly divisive or argumentative. • Good questions are followed up by careful listening. • Good conversationalists don’t drive hard to make some particular point at the expense of joyful friendship, support, and mutual encouragement.
A METHOD FOR ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PASSAGE The following describes the COMA method given by David Helm in One-to-One Bible Reading.
How does the passage fit with other things around it?
• What sort of writing is this? (a letter, a poem, a narrative, etc?) • Are there any clues about the circumstances under which it was written? • What has happened so far in this particular book of the Bible?
Take note of the main events, people, and content.
• Are there any major sub-sections or breaks in the passage? • What is the main point or points? • What surprises are there? • What are the key words? What words or ideas are repeated?
What is the author trying to tell us?
• How does this passage relate to other parts of the book? 10
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• How does the passage relate to Jesus? • What does this teach us about God? • How could we sum up the meaning of this passage in our own words?
In what ways does this passage have relevance to our
lives? • How does this passage challenge (or confirm) your understanding? • Is there some attitude I need to change? • How does this passage call on me to change the way I live?
2. LIFE GUIDING QUESTIONS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY Have a conversation over these 7 areas of life: 1. Private Worship How has your personal time with the Lord been over the last couple of weeks? How are you doing lately at pursuing daily joy in Christ? 2. Cares What concerns, fears, and anxieties have you experienced in the past couple of weeks? What idols is this exposing in your life? How is God meeting you through this? 3. Sins In what ways have you been recently struggling with sin and sinful desires lately? What habits or lusts are getting the best of you these days? Where is repentance needed in your life? How are you doing at applying the gospel to this in a way that fosters growth and change? 4. Family How is the Lord at work in your marriage and/or family over the last couple of weeks? What are the joys and trials that you are experiencing there? How is God working on hearts within the members of your family? 5. Relationships How are your relationships lately? Is there anyone with whom you are struggling relationally? Are there offenses that you have caused or received lately? How can you pursue forgiveness and reconciliation?
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6. Balance How is it going lately in terms of life-balance? Are there areas of personal, family, work, church, leisure, and rest that are out of whack? What steps can you take to bring balance? 7. Gospel Are you experiencing the joy of Christ these days, even if in small ways? Or is this a dry season? What truths of the gospel are most impactful to your soul lately? In what ways do you want God to increase your sense of His grace, peace, joy, and love?
GETTING TO LEVEL-THREE CONVERSATIONS In Life Groups our goal is to speak the truth in love to each other, bring about in each other growth in every way into Christ (Ephesians 4:15). This means getting below superficial small talk and niceties, which are necessary introductions to relationships. It means getting beyond the pat Sunday School answers that we so often offer up to impress others or get out of really answering something that exposes us. Level One: Small talk and shallow dialogue, everyday observations. Level Two: About personal history, stories of the past, what happened. Level Three: This level gets to the real heart of the matter. It goes deeper to the places where true meaningful conversation happens. Where we truly begin to get to know someone. It goes beyond pat answers and moralistic solutions. These conversations communicate to each other that, â€œI really care about you, and not just about fixing your situation.â€? Good questions are one of the keys here. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to penetrate our typical defenses in order to get at what really makes us tick, and how He wants to change us.
3. PRAYER As a Life Group triad, prayer is vital during your meeting times, and when even you are not together. Praying together at the end of your time is a natural outflow of your discussion and sharing of personal needs. Pray from the passage of scripture that you just discussed. Thank God in prayer for the provisions that God has granted in the past few weeks, and lift up each otherâ€™s current needs. And then through the week, share updates and prayer requests especially when there are urgent needs. Stay in touch! Make a point to see each other at church, even if just for a few moments. This is all a crucial part of being used by God to help care for each other.
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THE KEY TO DISCIPLESHIP: THE GOSPEL “Disciple making is essential, and it’s hard, but in Jesus is the grace for it—grace in several senses. As we saw earlier, the grace of the gospel is the content of disciple making, what we seek to pass along. The gospel is the deposit we entrust to others. We disciple grace—and not just general, ambiguous grace. Not laxity. But THE grace, gospel grace. And the grace of the gospel is not only the content of disciple making but also the power, the strength, and the energy for disciple making. ‘Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.’ Gospel grace is the fuel that runs the discipler’s engine up the hills of resistance and hardship and pain and suffering and obscurity.” - David Mathis
“Gospel-centered discipleship is not about how we perform but who we are—imperfect people, clinging to a perfect Christ, being perfected by the Spirit. As a result, I no longer stand at the top of the stairs but sit in the living room, where I can share my faith and my unfaith, my obedience and disobedience, my success and failure. As we give and receive the gospel, we don’t linger in imperfection, unbelief, disobedience, and failure. The Bible repeatedly tells us to fight. We have to fight to believe this gospel. Otherwise, we will slide back into individualistic, indifferent, or professionalized discipleship. This fight is a fight of faith. It is a struggle to believe what the gospel truly promises over what sin deceitfully promises. We need to remind one another that Jesus has not called us to performance or indifference but to faith in him. We need relationships that are so shaped by the gospel that we will exhort and encourage one another to trust Jesus every single day. We need gospel-centered discipleship.” - Jonathan Dodson Gospel-centered Discipleship (pg. 128)
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“Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself with belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure. And that also clarifies the goal of all Christian community: they meet one another as bringers of the message of salvation.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer Life Together
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A discipleship ministry at Redeemer Bible Church.