What is a Life Group and why should I join one?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” This famous line from Romeo and Juliet aptly describes these things we call “Life Groups.” In fact, I don’t really know who came up with the term but if I remember correctly, it’s actually short for “Body Life Groups.” I think someone realized how weird having the “body” part sounded and so now they’re just “Life Groups.” There are many names that could be applied to the concept of Life Groups. In fact, many other churches use names like “small groups” or “community groups” or some other term to describe this concept.

So, what is a Life Group?

None of these terms, including “Life Groups”, is found in Scripture. These are man-made terms and organizational structures that we have created in an effort to jump-start the type of “body life” we see both commanded and exemplified in Scripture. Scripture talks a lot about how we are to relate to one another in the body.

We have even attempted to consolidate what Scripture says into our membership covenant at LHBC, but diving into those would make this post much longer than it needs to be. I would encourage you to take the time and look up all those “one-another” passages (and check out our church covenant).

Unfortunately, despite all of these commands and examples that we have in Scripture (which we all probably know very well), we as individuals, couples, and families have, for the most part, failed to match the desire for, commitment to, and depth of Biblical relationships that we see in Scripture.

Consider the following Scriptures:

Romans 12:9–13 [9] Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. [10] Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. [11] Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. [12] Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. [13] Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (ESV)

Paul here is calling us to show true love to one another with brotherly affection. We are challenged to outdo one another in honoring one another. We are reminded that this is part of serving the Lord then again called to meet the needs of our brothers in Christ and to be hospitable.

Colossians 3:12–17 [12] Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, [13] bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. [14] And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. [15] And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. [16] Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. [17] And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (ESV)

Here Paul again is calling us to relate to one another by showing many fruits of the Spirit toward one another. Forgiveness is a big part of this passage as it shows the heart of Christ to one another. We are also called to interact with one another through the word, teaching and admonishing each other, not just the Elders on Sunday. The relationships described here go much deeper than simply talking about the local sports teams or what funny thing our children did this week. It’s a relationship that is intentional about building one another up in Christ through the Word.

James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (ESV)

The relationship described here is much more intimate than the common relationship in the church. In fact, it’s so intimate that it can be down-right scary to think about interacting with someone else in the church on this level. Here James tells us that we should have close enough relationships with others in the body of Christ that we are able to share our failures and sin with each other. This is not done in a boastful or even shameful manner, but rather desiring to lift one another up in prayer! I wonder, do you have a fellow believer in the Church that you are that close to?

Do your relationships in the body of Christ look like the ones described in the passages above?

 
Life Groups are not the answer.

Why? Because this is not an organizational problem. We like to blame the modern culture for our busyness and apathy when it comes to living as Scripture calls us to live. However, the real problem is that we simply don’t put commitment to Biblical relationships within the body high enough in our list of priorities.

We all fill the same 24 hours a day with something. Why, with all of our modern conveniences do we find ourselves too busy to gather with the body as a church, as a small group, or even one-on-one? I believe it’s because we simply don’t place the priority on those relationships that Scripture does. No matter what organizational structures we put into place, nothing we plan will fix the underlying issue. We must come to a place in our lives as individuals, couples, and families that these Biblical relationships are more important than the many selfish ways we currently spend our time.

If Life Groups are not the answer, why have them?

That’s a valid question and one that we have wrestled with ourselves. While we certainly can’t force people into modeling the type of relationships we see in Scripture, we can in small ways encourage the process of changing the way we think about relationships in the body of Christ through our Life Group organization in the following ways:

Life Groups are voluntary.

While we desire everyone to be involved and we encourage everyone to be involved and even reach out to those who are not involved to invite them to participate, it is 100% voluntary. Just as you can’t force someone to come to Christ, you can’t force people into a deeper walk with others in their local body. It must be your choice.

Life Groups are relational.

When we look at the commands and examples in Scripture we see a much more intimate, knowledgable way that the early church interacted with one another. Life Groups are designed to help facilitate opportunities for more intimate relationships within our local body. The small nature of these groups provides a less pressured environment for people to be real with one another when it comes to spiritual things. This is not another opportunity for the Elders to teach to a group of people. Rather, our desire is for relationships to be developed as we know and interact with one another.

Life Groups emphasize prayer.

While there are many parts of interacting with one another in the body of Christ, prayer is probably the most necessary and yet the most neglected. We are usually happy to give to a financial need or sign up to provide a meal, but how much time do we spend in prayer for one another. Do you even know what burdens are affecting others within the body that you can pray for? Do you know when God has answered prayer? Life Groups provides an opportunity to bear one another’s burdens, both physically and spiritually through prayer.

Life Groups are just the beginning.

If Life Groups are the only times individuals, couples and families are interacting with one another, then they have failed their purpose. These times together should not be our only outlet for relationships within the body. Instead, we pray that they serve to kindle within each of us a deeper desire to know, love and grow with one another within the body at LHBC. Life Groups are an imperfect tool that we pray will fan the flames of discipleship and edification within the body so that it grows more and more in the days ahead.

Hebrews 10:24–25 [24] And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, [25] not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (ESV)

Why should you join a Life Group? Because it’s the fastest way to get started developing relationships with others within the body at LHBC. But don’t stop there! We love hearing about members who are getting together outside life groups for encouragement, prayer and even just enjoying being together. Why? Because that’s part of what God desires for His church.