Grow Groups are an essential part of life at Gateway. While we highly 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 8 to 18 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.
1. Build a Network of Relationships
We want to help you connect with others, but we also want your relationships at Gateway to be authentic and meaningful. That's why focusing on building relationships in ways that feel natural to you is a great first step. And ultimately, groups are about relationships. It's helpful to get in the habit of sticking around after worship services to meet people. Also, if a Gateway regular invited you to church, ask them to introduce you to some people they know. You might also invite someone you already have a relationship with to begin attending Gateway with you.
2. Attend Discovery 101
Discovery 101 is an introductory class for everyone who is new to Gateway. One of the important things covered in this class is the foundation upon which Grow Groups are built. Call the church office regarding the date of the next Discovery 101 class.
3. Take A Step
At any point that you are ready to pursue joining a group, let us know. Most weekends you can find Pastor Bill in the "Family Room" (the special seating area in the back of the auditorium). He the search for a group. We will help you meet others who are in the process of forming a new group or expanding an existing group. Call us at the church office (835-2153) and we'll do everything we can to help you find a group that is a good fit for you.
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 Bill 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 Bill. 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
Tentative Class Schedule:
Saturdays, 4:30-5:45 p.m. beginning May 13 (for current leaders)
Tuesdays, 6:30-7:45 p.m. beginning August 1
Mondays, 6:30-7:45 p.m. beginning October 30
Talk to Pastor Bill for more information.