Our friend from Life group, Weston, hosted a low country boil at his house in Chapin yesterday. The weather was perfect — warm and breezy — and the food and drinks delicious. I haven’t tried boiled peanuts since high school, and wasn’t impressed back then, but yesterday I couldn’t stop eating them. Judah’s response when he cracked one open, “There’s something wrong with these peanuts!!!”
The main way we foster community and discipleship at CPC is through small groups, which we call Life groups. We have six Life groups meeting right now, and it’s been very much a learning process for the church as we’ve figured out leadership and curriculum and scheduling these past seven months.
I’m so glad we’ve pressed on (and by “we” I mostly mean David and John), and I’m glad our Life group leadership has been open and honest about what works for them and what doesn’t, because I feel like we’re in such a sweet season now. I wanted friendships in all of the Life groups to grow and becoming transparent, but I worried if that happened our groups would become exclusive and not quick to welcome newcomers.
I love how that worry has melted away as I’ve seen that our Life groups are a natural extension of our church family. CPC is a friendly, welcoming church, and so time and again David and I hear of people feeling welcomed and pursued as they join a Life Group. It’s been encouraging to see others thrive in their Life Group, and also to feel like David and I are thriving in ours.
If you’re curious about how our small group ministry works right now: we meet twice a month and have discussion questions to process and apply that Sunday’s sermon. There is purposeful age diversity in all the groups — young families with college students with singles with empty nesters.
Each group has flexibility as to whether they want meeting times to be with all adults, or to split up by gender. The group decides together which evening a week to meet on. Our ladies meet two Sunday evenings a month at my house and the guys meet the alternate Sundays at another house. Then we do a whole-group hang out (like a picnic at the river or a low country boil) every couple months or so.
This has worked perfectly for our group since we have lots of young kiddos and meeting girls and guys separately has kept childcare from being an issue. But a couple groups with fewer kids meet all together, and another group hires a babysitter. It’s fun to see people have freedom to decide what works best for them rather than trying to have one specific formula for everyone.
The groups were started by location, but have evolved into a more organic style. Newcomers can choose a group either based on location, on what night works best for them, or if they have a friendship with someone in the group. I hope this has created a more natural atmosphere instead of just assigning someone to a group.
One of my favorite things on a Sunday morning is to greet a visitor and after chatting for awhile, to invite them to check out our Life group — only to have them say “I’ve already been invited to three other Life groups!” I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to be apart of a church family like this.