Because of the unique structure and history of Faith Bible Church, it is appropriate to think of our body as a church of Growth Groups, not a church with Growth Groups. We would not be able to function the way God has called us to function as a church without an effective and thriving growth group ministry. Have you considered why this structure is so vital to what we are called to be and do as fellow believers?
"Every member has biblical responsibilities to the body of Christ (think of the 'one anothers' of Scripture). Most of them cannot be fulfilled by a church member as a part of the Sunday morning service."
While many churches have “Adult Sunday School” programs or Sunday evening services, our facility limitations and the centrally located “commuter” culture of FBC make every member’s involvement in the growth group ministry a vital part of spiritual growth and biblical body life. Every member has biblical responsibilities to the body of Christ (think of the “one anothers” of Scripture). Most of them cannot be fulfilled by a church member as a part of the Sunday morning service. The purpose and design of our corporate worship time on Sundays is necessarily limited. The Growth Group ministry is where we connect people relationally in a way that enables them to give and receive all the blessings that come with being a part of the local church.
Have you considered carefully how vital the relationships and structure of the growth groups truly are in fulfilling these purposes and participating in those blessings?
This, of course, is why every shepherd and host family should be actively seeking to invite others, grow numerically, engage in ministry to the lost, mentor new leaders, and multiply their group. While we have a high degree of participation and connection to groups at FBC, our desire is that 100% of our families be involved in the ministry.
We often repeat the FBC vision statement, that we are “a loving community making disciples of Jesus Christ.” This is a summary of a larger mission statement.
Mission Statement: For the glory of God, Faith Bible Church exists to make disciples who worship wholeheartedly, who labor to help others grow spiritually, who speak the gospel in every sphere of life, who partner in gospel ministry around the world, and who serve in and outside the church.
Clearly, this mission is impossible to fulfill completely through the Sunday morning ministry. We believe what the church is called to do on a large scale, every growth group should be aiming at on a smaller scale. Our desire and aim is that shepherds and members of each growth group are aiming at cultivating and participating together in all the aspects of our corporate mission.
Every group will have a distinct personality, comprised of members with different gifts, desires, and burdens. There are, however, a few general aims and goals that every group should be striving for. Of course, the overarching goal is that through this kind of focused ministry to and with one another, that we grow in our worshipful, passionate relationship with our God and Savior. These are not the ultimate aims. To keep a proper perspective, you should really think of them as the means to the end of knowing and worshiping Christ more.
Instruction: This happens using the provided growth guide, or through other means. We encourage groups to consider occasional departures from growth guide studies to address a topical need in the group (for instance, we have had groups do studies on parenting and finances recently). If you have an idea for your group, ask your growth group shepherd to approach their coach or pastor about the idea.
Encouragement: The aim is that group members are transparent and vulnerable enough with one another that real encouragement to persevere and stand firm in truth happens. Group members should be reminded of this goal, and should be given opportunity to share without the fear of unwarranted judgment.
Mutual Care: Practical and spiritual needs should be known as part of the lesson or times of prayer. Group members should be actively seeking to meet those needs, whether through service or spiritual counsel. The elders view the growth group shepherd as the first line of spiritual care for members and attendees of FBC.
Prayer: It is within a context of healthy prayer together that encouragement is given and spiritual needs are made known. Be proactive in helping to cultivate heart-focused prayer in your group.
Service: In addition to meeting practical needs within the group, we encourage groups to look for ways to serve together. There are a few ways the church organizes these efforts (fall leaf pick-up, UGM camp, ESL classes, etc.). We encourage you to both be creative and to look for other ways to serve the community and people outside the confines of your group.
Outreach: Similarly, each group should consider that part of their role is fulfill the aspect of the Great Commission that impacts the lost. Supporting missions through prayer or financial giving is one easy way. Volunteering for Willard, UGM, or ESL classes are opportunities that exist already. But even more valuable would be identifying opportunities that flow out of the relationships that exist already in your group (relationships that flow out of work, family, school, or recreational activities).
Multiplication: There are many reasons for groups to always be striving to grow and multiply. By multiplication, we mean that a group of 8 grows into a group of 20, and then multiplies itself into two groups of 10, each with a shepherd, host, and ministry coordinator. This keeps groups open for new attendees at FBC, as well as for giving invitations to those you are ministering to as you go about your daily activities. Here are more details for how each group should be thinking and moving toward multiplication.
As stated previously, our desire is that 100% of FBC families are involved in this vital ministry. In fact, we think it is very difficult to fulfill your responsibilities to God and the body of Christ if you are not. If you are already involved, you know how terrific life in the body can be. If you are not involved in a group, then we encourage you to go to fbchurch.org/findagroup and get connected.