During a time when we find it hard or even impossible to meet together as believers face-to-face because of social distancing, it is vital that we continue to meet together in non-traditional ways in order to stay connected. It's vital for us to stay in communication so that we can continue to speak words of life and faith to one another - praying for one another and encouraging each other to run the race set before us.
Grow Groups are an essential part of life at Gateway. While we value and enjoy gathering together to praise God, our worship services are too big to develop the closest kinds of relationships. We all need a smaller group of friends with whom we can share our lives. For that reason our goal is to connect every person at Gateway with a Grow Group where they can build those deep relationships.
Grow Groups are small gatherings of about 6 to 15 people that meet in homes, generally on a weekly basis, to offer each other support and care. Our groups are led by shepherds whose desire is to help people experience the love and guidance of God within the context of these spiritual friendships. The leader looks to foster this when the entire group gathers together and within the natural connections of group friendships throughout the week.
When they gather, most groups spend the greater portion of their time in biblical discussion and prayer--seeking to apply the Bible to the important events in their lives. Some groups share a meal together, some include their children in a portion of their group time, and some explore ways of serving people outside their group. In other words, each group reflects the unique make-up and needs of the people in that group. The thing our groups most have in common is that Jesus is the center of group life.
For a thorough presentation of the principles and foundations of Grow Groups we recommend you listen to a sermon series from September-October 2013 called The Fridge.
Let’s Do This Together
Over time, the people in a Grow Group will become some of the most important connections in your life. Given that goal, it’s important that the process of finding a group be highly relational—in contrast to something like signing up for a class. The process isn’t complicated but you’ll still need some help, so let’s do this together with God’s guidance!
~ MEET TEN
We would like to introduce you to some great people. Ten or so would be a good start. Hopefully our Welcome team will get you started on that in our lobby. Perhaps the person who invited you to Gateway can introduce you to people they know. Also, be sure to stop by the “Family Room” (the gathering place at the back of the auditorium) to fill out a group interest card. We’ll use it to help you meet others who are interested in group life.
~ MAKE THREE
Your part is to make three friends—nothing complicated, just simple friendships. From among the people you meet, choose someone to invite to coffee, lunch or whatever you like to do with friends. It might be as easy as making a point to talk to them each week after worship. Along the way, be sure to ask about their experiences with group life.
~ DISCOVER ONE
Jesus has actually done the heavy lifting when it comes to your spiritual connections. He is the one who promised to build up his church—creating a spiritual family out of those who trust him. Pray that he leads you to a group where you can experience that deep connection. During this process of getting to know people, we believe God is going to give you a connection with one or more people that will lead to a good group choice. Along the way, come back by the “Family Room” as often as you need to and we’ll help you discover the group where you belong!
When do Grow Groups meet?
Each group meets on the day and time that works best for the members of that group. Most groups meet weekly, though some meet bi-weekly. We currently have groups meeting on every day of the week.
How big are Grow Groups?
The average group has about 14 people. A few groups are a bit smaller and some are a bit bigger. Sometimes the most practical matters, such as the size of someone's living room, determines the capacity of a group. However, the most important factor is that the group's size remains condusive to developing spiritually encouraging relationships.
Where do Grow Groups meet?
Most of our Grow Groups meet in homes. Some groups have a regular host home while others rotate through two or more of the group member's homes. (The exceptions are some of our groups for students as well as our specialized men's and women's groups that meet at the church.)
What do Home Hosts do?
The individuals and families that host our Grow Groups are usually people eager to exercise the gift of hospitality in opening their home to their group. It's not about having the perfect house but rather helping people feel at home. If you are interested in hosting a Grow Group please contact Pastor Gary for more information.
What about kids and Grow Groups?
Group life is core for everyone at Gateway. Elementary aged children are introduced to small group experiences within our Kid's Church program. Our middle school and high school students have their own small group program on Sunday evenings. As for childcare during an adult Grow Group, each group decides this based on their needs and interests. Some groups leave childcare up to each family while others provide a cooperative care solution. We also have a few groups who include their children in part or all of their group time.
What do Grow Group Leaders do?
The leaders of our Grow Groups are Gateway's spiritual shepherds. While they have diverse gifts, they share a common interest and responsibility of providing spiritual care and leadership to Gateway's people. Leaders facilitate the elements of their group's meeting time and encourage their members to connect in meaningful ways outside of their group meeting.
How do I explore the possibility of being a Grow Group Leader?
First, you'll want to be a part of a group. Having lots of experience being a supportive member of a group is a natural first step. Once you are in a group for a while you should discuss the idea with the leader of your group. It may be possible to apprentice in your own group. Also, discuss the idea with Pastor Gary. He can get you signed up and ready to participate in our trianing program. You'll find more about that program in the next section.
Exploring Group Leadership is Gateway's Leader Training program for those interested in shepherding a Grow Group. You will study everything from group values to launching a new group. The course includes five personal reflection assignments, each followed by a group debriefing & teaching session. Topics include:
- Embracing Group Leadership Values
- Defining Your Target: the "One-Anothers"
- The Group Gathered
- Commitments to Community
- Group Formation and Launch Strategies
Contact the church office regarding the dates of the next class at 360-835-2153