What Are Community Groups?

In their most basic sense, Community Groups are groups of people sharing their lives and mission together.

Who Are These Groups For?

Primarily the members and regular attendees of SAPC. Visitors would certainly be welcome at a group, particularly if that visitor was a neighbor of one of the participant families. In fact, this could be a great way to introduce someone to the body of SAPC. But this ministry is specifically geared toward those who are actively attending SAPC. (Hebrews 10:24-25, 1 Peter 2:9, John 13:34-35, 1 John 4:7-10)

What Do Community Groups Do?

Community Groups are designed to bring the people of SAPC together for a time of fellowship around a meal, followed by discussion of the sermon material from that day. A term that we have seen and appreciate is “Radical Neighboring.” (Acts 2:42, 1 Corinthians 12:7-20, 1 Peter 1:22-23, 1Timothy 2:1,8)

Who Will Be Teaching the Community Groups?

The short answer is: nobody. This is not a teaching time. This is not a devotional time. This is a time set aside for discussion…for encouraging one another, listening to one another, challenging one another, and actually getting to know one another.

Okay…So Who Helps Move it Along?

Each group will have a “Facilitator.” They facilitate the conversation and help keep things moving. They are not the teacher. Facilitators will be supplied with relevant questions from the sermon material for suggested areas to address. But there is freedom (it’s not necessary to “complete” the questions). (Acts 2:42, Philippians 1:6, 1 Corinthians 12:27-31, Ephesians 4:15, James 3:1)

Why Community Groups?

One of the reasons for Community Groups at Saint Andrews is that we want to help make a big church small. We want people to be in dynamic, personal relationships with each other within the body of Christ. Our Community Groups, people sharing their lives and mission together, help to foster an authentic, close-knit environment within the local church. Through intentional conversations, we can draw closer to one another on a horizontal level as we corporately draw near to the Lord on a vertical level.

What Do You Mean by Intentional Conversations?

As a culture, we are losing the skills and abilities required to discuss matters of the faith in any environment. Typically, each generation looks at the generation coming behind them with a certain level of misunderstanding, just in terms of how they relate to each other. To ask someone to “share the Gospel” with their neighbor is becoming an increasingly difficult task because people are losing the ability to communicate anything with their neighbor. This is not a unique issue to SAPC. This is a phenomenon rooted in our culture that needs to be addressed.

How Will Community Groups Impact the Entire Lord’s Day?

By focusing our conversations on the sermon material, we will be encouraging an increased awareness of what is being taught and communicated on Sunday mornings. People listen more intentionally when they know they are going to be discussing it. Simply sharing a meal with someone is an intimate encounter. It’s easy to see why Jesus chose this method of ministry…eating meals with people. The Gospel of Luke records no less than nine stories of Jesus eating with people. Beyond that, there are numerous parables that Jesus teaches that center around a meal or banquet. Per Tim Chester, “The meals of Jesus are a window into his message of grace and the way it defines his community and its mission.” One of the positive benefits of meeting together, eating together, and talking about the Word of God together, is that we grow in our comfort level as it relates to talking with anyone about spiritual things.

When Are Community Groups?

Many of our groups meet on Sunday evenings. But we have groups meeting around the community from Sunday though Tuesday evenings.

When Do Community Groups Meet?

Most groups meet from 5:30pm until 7:00pm. The first thirty minutes are generally spent eating together with all the participant families. The hour from 6:00 until 7:00 is spent in discussion of the sermon material and prayer together. (Exodus 20:8)

What Time of Year Will Community Groups Take Place?

Community Groups will begin in September and run through mid-November. They will break during the “Holiday Season.” They would start back in January and run through early May. They would break for the summer (also this is when sign-ups and organizing take place for the next year). Ideally, the Community Groups will meet a minimum of three weeks out of the month, and never less than twice per month. This will be the commitment that hosts and facilitators make. Each group will have to work out which week they would be off during a month. There is not a rigid mandate for the week that is “off.” Some may wish to participate in an outreach or mercy ministry project on their “off week.”

Where Are Community Groups?

Where Do Community Groups Meet?

Community Groups would meet in the homes of our members. Individuals would volunteer and are regularly being recruited to serve as host locations. Their primary function is to open their homes and make people feel welcome. Because of the realistic limitations that individual homes have, groups will vary in size. We aren’t asking people to restructure their house in order to accommodate a huge crowd. These groups should be small enough that most people could serve in a host capacity if they were so inclined.  As a group reaches the point of being “full,” we are encouraging them to begin thinking about planting a new group. (Mark 14:3, Luke 19:5, Luke 24:36-43)

Where will the Children and Youth be?

Ideally, the children would be with their family at Community Group. Provisions will need to be made for someone to watch them during the discussion time, but they could be included in the eating time. This is a family meal.

Okay…So Who Will Watch the Kids?

Each group will have to decide. There are several options. The group could rotate taking turns watching the kids. A college or high school student could be paid to watch them. A nursery worker could be hired. Those dynamics will need to be sorted through for each group, and we can always offer creative ideas. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7, Ephesians 6:4, Romans 12:4-5)

How Do We Organize Community Groups?

Since we see these groups as a vital ministry within Saint Andrews, we encourage all of our members to be involved in a Community Group.

How Will the Community Groups be Organized?

Originally, our Community Groups were organized geographically. As we identified the first group of hosts and facilitators, we worked hard to be strategic in locating them. A survey was conducted of the areas of highest concentration of our members so that we could seek out hosts and facilitators in those areas. The desire is for Community Groups to be balanced and intergenerational. We need to bridge the gaps. As a culture (not just SAPC…Western Culture), we need to overcome the divisions of age, race, and socio-economic standing. Our Community Groups should reflect that need. Now that our groups have been established, we’re in need of multiplication, and are always on the watch for new hosts. As a group reaches the point of being “full,” we want to see that group take the missional approach and look toward planting a new group, to make room for more participants.  The pastoral staff is available to assist in this process. (1 Corinthians 12:27-31, Jeremiah 29:7, 1 Peter 5:2-3)

How Will People Sign-Up?

Online, and in person. Sign-ups would occur at various points throughout the year, especially around the time of new member classes joining the church. As groups continue to multiply, it will create more space for new participants.

What Else Will Community Groups Do?

For starters, we would encourage each Community Group to take part in at least one service project each semester as a team. We encourage our groups to have gatherings where friends and neighbors can be invited. Examples would be: The Super Bowl, Pumpkin Carving in October, a Labor Day Cook-out, a Valentine’s Dinner Party, etc. At any point where we might gather for a special occasion, that’s probably a good time to invite others to come and join with us. (1 Peter 2:15-16, 1 Peter 4:10, Hebrews 10:24-25, Mark 5:19)