This page should be of interest to everyone in the church, whether or not you’re currently part of a home group, so please do read on!
Firstly, I wanted to say how valuable home groups are to our life as a church. For most people, Sunday mornings are a chance to connect broadly within the church, but not at great depth. Home Groups give an opportunity for a depth of relationship that cannot be realised on a Sunday, as well as giving an opportunity for more interactive bible study and prayer. If you aren’t currently part of a home group, I’d encourage you to consider joining one – there is a richness of relationship and support which can build up and encourage us all. In saying that, I’d also like to thank and honour David, Margaret, Stephen and Jemima for leading the current groups with love and diligence.
As we look at where our home groups are going, there are a few different elements to bear in mind, which I’ve laid out below.
As some of you will remember from the last church forum, we think it’s important to run Christianity Explored this year, and we’ve taken the decision to run it in home groups from Easter through to the Summer. The course works through the Gospel of Mark, looking at what it tells us about Jesus and about the Christian faith. For many of us this will be familiar territory, but we hope to achieve two things – firstly, to remind us again of the foundations of our faith, and to help us think about how we would articulate them; secondly, to familiarise us with the Christianity Explored material, to give confidence inviting guests to it in future years. I believe this will help us grow in our confidence in Christ, and in boldness talking about him.
While we’re primarily running CE for us to grow in confidence in our faith and familiarity with the material, we’re also aware that some people may already have friends they’d like to invite to CE. If this proves to be the case, we will seek to run an additional CE group, meeting at a time that works best for the guests – should this happen, there will be a chance to join that group for those who would like to do so. We imagine that those people would step away from home group temporarily for the duration of the course, to avoid overloading themselves. We’re also hoping that some people in the church might be willing to volunteer to offer babysitting for non-Christians who would like to join CE.
I firmly believe that churches should invest in raising up leaders – it’s a healthy part of how the Kingdom of God functions, and it’s also helpful for releasing service within the church. So, while Christianity Explored is running in home groups, Caroline and I will also be running a leadership course called STEP, covering the foundational aspects of Christian leadership. Anyone who would like to grow as a leader (not only within the church, but in the workplace too) can ask to join the course, although we may hit a limit on numbers, and the expectation is that it will also run in the same fortnightly slot as home groups. People joining the training would therefore be temporarily stepping away from home groups (if they are in one) for the duration of the course. I’d also like to emphasise that this group would also be suitable for older youth, so please do consider it an option (youth) / encourage your older teens to consider it (parents).
One difficulty we’ve run into, and an obstacle in inviting people to join groups, is that both our current home groups are very large! This is particularly true of the Spares’ group, which has 18 members! We’ve therefore been working on a plan to form a new group. Part of the difficulty in doing so is that many of those who would be willing to lead a home group are currently maxed out serving elsewhere. There are some possibilities emerging, and it seems likely that the leadership training group may give more people the confidence to lead or co-lead a group, so we think that the Autumn is looking like a good time to start a new group. In the meantime, pressure on numbers will be slightly relieved by the additional courses running, and over the summer we tend to find numbers are a little lower as more people go away on holidays. However, come the Autumn, we expect that we will need to launch a new group, and believe that we will be in a good position to do so.
Putting it all together
I appreciate that that’s quite a lot of information – we thought it was important to share the multiple considerations behind the current plan! For those who think more visually, here’s what this looks like in diagram form: (also attached in case you can’t view it below)
Everyone therefore has a choice ahead of them. As the current home groups are continuing, the default for anyone who doesn’t express another preference is that you will stay in the same group. Come the Autumn, we will need to split out a new group, but that will happen through conversation within the groups, not simply as an announcement! Here are the other choices you could make:
- If you would like to put your name down for the leadership training group, or want more information about the STEP course, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you would be interested in joining a seeker-focused Christianity Explored group, or if you would like to offer babysitting for a CE guest, please email Tim: email@example.com.
- If you are not currently in a Home Group and would like to join one, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lastly, as always, if you have further questions or if anything isn’t clear, please get in touch with Al for a conversation.