What does a Community Group do?
This section defines and explains certain elements that should be a part of a Community Group’s rhythm. Our goal is to see unique expressions of community that encompasses these elements, versus letting the elements dictate what community looks like. Leaders are encouraged to experiment with rhythms and frequency to develop Community Groups that are life giving and transformational.
A key element in our Community Groups is study of Scripture. The Bible is the revelation of God and is therefore authoritative in our lives. It should be the place we go to answer questions about our lives. The Bible is our source of wisdom and practical application of the gospel to daily living. It should not be something we merely study but something we live by.
In your Community Group we want you to be in the Word consistently. Community Groups are more than Bible studies but the Scriptures are central to our life together. We are not a community until we apply what we read in Scripture in worship of Jesus, in love for one another, and in mission to the world.
Therefore, you should have time for Bible study within the rhythm of your group. During that time you are strongly encouraged to and will follow the text from Sunday. The purpose for this is to encourage unity and connection with other groups and unify ministries within Calvary Chapel so that parents and children are learning together. It also encourages connection with your church and its mission.
Questions are provided for the text covered on Sunday and are based on the sermon. They are written to encourage your group to engage in the text (not simply the sermon), as we would prefer you test and explore the scriptures on your own in response to what you have heard.
Prayer is a gift of God’s grace to us. It is an opportunity to communicate with the Creator of the universe. We have the ability to converse with God, praising him, confessing our sin, asking for His provision, and listening for His response. Our Community Groups should be consistently seasoned with prayer.
Prayer should include:
- Praise of God
- Praying for His Will
We have a tendency to focus on requests, so be sure to shepherd your group toward a fuller understanding of prayer.
Provide opportunities for your group to pray often and build a culture of prayer. Encourage your group to recognise that it is more important to pray than to talk about praying. Reduce the urge for everyone to share prayer requests (this generally takes way to long) but be quick to go to prayer when you hear one. In other words, if someone is sharing and you hear a need, stop and pray. Use smaller settings, like breaking in groups of three, to have everyone share requests. But again, it is more important to pray than talk about it. Be cognizant of new or non-believers who may not know how to pray. You can try some or all of the following (this list is not exhaustive):
- Pray as a large group (directed, specific prayers for neighborhood, the sick, the mission, etc.)
- Pray in smaller groups (break out by gender)
- Pray in groups of two (specific prayers for each other)
- Popcorn Prayer (no pre-discussion, pray as you feel led)
- Korean Style Prayer (everyone praying for the same thing at the same time)
- Pray through Psalms or other Scripture
- Meditate on scripture.
Confession and Repentance
As with prayer we are looking for a culture of confession and repentance as a response to the gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit. If we are to see transformation in our Community Groups, we need to see conviction worked out in repentance. As a community we cannot wink at sin, but must lovingly correct beliefs, thoughts, and behaviour that is not honouring to God. The purpose must always be reconciliation not conformity. Reconciliation is the gospel. Conformity is religion. Therefore, the goal of your group in this area should be to point to Jesus, the cross and the resurrection, as the only remedy for sin and look to the Holy Spirit for the ability to walk in righteousness. We want heart change not merely behavior change. Therefore, address sin with the gospel, not with rules and allow the Grace of God to do His wonderful work in our lives.
As the image bearers of God in community, we ought to live lives of worship. As a community we should encourage one another toward constant worship. You can practice this in community in many ways but here are a few examples:
- Worship together on Sunday
- Lift praises to God
- Pray through the Psalms or other Scripture
- Write a poem/psalm in exaltation of Jesus
- Gather to sing worship songs
- Eat a great meal and praise God
- Gather for Thanksgiving in November
- Clean someone’s yard for the glory of God
This is the place where you enjoy one another and can more easily invite new people to experience your community. Hallmarks of hospitality include food, fun, and conversation. The point is to build relationships, so provide the space and enjoy.
This is the place where we get out and bless our suburb(s). It is an opportunity to partner with your neighbors toward a common cause and gives you the time to develop relationship with your neighborhood. It is an opportunity to reflect the grace and love of Jesus to your neighbors. Check schools, community centres, neighborhood newsletters and websites for ideas on where your group can serve. Seek out opportunities to act with benevolence. Remember as well that service includes serving the body, so check your church for needs that your Community Group can fill.
The purpose of hosting particular events within the rhythms of your group is to provide a safe and hospitable place to enjoy community. You need to consider the space, food, lighting, seating, greeting, clean up and a host (pardon the pun) of other factors. As a leader be sensitive to the demands of the host and be sure to clue the community into those demands so you can share the burden. Proper thought into rhythms can alleviate some of that burden as well. Hosts should be reminded that simple is good, to ask for and receive help, and to find your identity in Jesus not the presentation of their home.
As often as possible children should be incorporated in what the community is doing. With the right rhythm you should be able to include kids in a lot of the life of the community. Reference the appendix for some ideas on alternative rhythms for groups with children. In the event that you do use childcare or have members of your groups watch kids during a gathering, be sure and use common sense. No less then two adults should watch kids regardless of how few kids are being watched. Have parents take their own children to the bathroom or change diapers. Be wise and adhere to the children’s ministry policy of Calvary Chapel.
Exercise of Spiritual Gifts
The Holy Spirit is in the business of exalting Jesus and that is the purpose of our Community Groups. Therefore it stands to reason that we should be exercising gifts of the Spirit in community and seeing the fruits of the Spirit as well. As the church is described as a body with all the parts important to the function of the body, so a community of believers should be using their gifts for the glorification of Jesus. When discerning the appropriateness of particular gifts in community, remember that the purpose of those gifts is to exalt Jesus.