Saturday, December 14, 2013

You Asked! 2:42 Life Groups FAQ's(Frequently Asked Questions)

The following questions were submitted during a combined Sunday Classes on Sunday, December 8, 2013 through anonymous surveys.

"How do the 2:42 Life Groups work?" 

You can learn the details of 2:42 Life Groups here. There is also a Why Small Groups? video clip that you can view here. In addition, there are some excellent video clips of Russ and Tori Camp that can be viewed here and here.

“Will the 2:42 Life Groups replace, cancel, or change the Sunday evening service?”

We received a great deal of helpful feedback from our folks about this. Originally, we believed that we should include the Sunday Evening Service as a 2:42 Life Group and rename it, “Sunday Evening Bible Study.”  For a number of our folks, that was not well received. So, as a result of that counsel, we are going to continue to call this meeting the “Sunday Evening Service.” Pastor Kyle will continue to lead the music, child care and 3’s and 4’s junior church will continue, and Sunday evening opportunities to contribute to an offering will, also, continue to be available. One change will be the option that folks will have, beginning February 2, to either participate in the Sunday Evening Service or one of the 2:42 Life Groups offered on Sunday evening. In addition, we are adjusting the time to 5:30pm beginning January 5. That change is actually to make the service more of an option for families with young children, who are not participating in the Sunday evening 2:42 Life Groups. We have heard from young families over the years that the Sunday evening service would be more of an option if it were offered/ended earlier. So, the Sunday Evening Service can continue to be a “family time” for those who enjoy it in that way.

“Should we have a congregational vote about 2:42 Life Groups?" Does the Constitution and By-Laws require a vote?”

2:42 Life Groups are a new meeting opportunity that will emphasize more personal application in Bible study, fellowship, and prayer. As a new meeting  opportunity (like cottage prayer meetings, deacon care groups, “Friday Night at the Fullers,” ABF Fellowships, etc.), it falls under Article VI-Meetings-Section 1: Regular Services, E of our Constitution and Bylaws which states  such special emphasis meetings can be organized “as the pastor senses the Lord’s leading.” Removing one of our regular meetings (Sunday evening service, Wednesday Service, Sunday School, etc.), however, would have required our asking the congregation’s pleasure for a Constitutional and By-Law change.   I am personally grateful that I have this constitutional elasticity to organize and call for these more intentional and personal discipleship groups as I have been sensing the Lord leading. What peace and assurance He has given me that this is His will for our church family!

“What about the children? Is there a plan for child care? Will the children and teens be losing an opportunity?  And, will there be something for the teens?

In all of our research regarding small group discipleship meetings, addressing the needs of child care and children were near the top of the list! Here is how we are planning:

1.     There will be around 5-7 of the 2:42 Life Groups that will offer “children’s ministries.” These groups will be clearly marked in the 2:42 Life Group Leaflet as well as on the online menu. Those groups that offer children’s ministries will offer them for nursery to 5th grade.

a.     For those 2:42 Life Groups offering children’s ministries, the Group Host will be able to evaluate the registrations throughout the “off-month”(January, May, and September) so adequate ministries can be established for the ages and number of children coming to the 2:42 Life Group. (For example, my wife and I are hosting a 2:42 Life Group at our home and Becky is organizing the crafts, Bible lesson, snack, etc., that the children will be able to enjoy.)

b.     The 2:42 Life Groups that host children’s ministries will have special training sessions with our Pre-School Director,  Heidi Beaman, to review together our child-safety procedures and protocols.

c.      2:42 Life Groups that host children’s ministries will rotate their qualified women children’s workers each week to participate in the children’s ministries. There will also be opportunities for teen girls to assist.

d.     The option for children’s ministries at the Sunday Evening Service will continue to be available on Sunday evenings at 5:30pm.

2.     There will be 3 or 4 of the 2:42 Life Groups that will offer a teenage Bible study option. These groups will be lead by an adult or college student through a weekly Bible study.

So, overall, the 2:42 Life Groups are actually going to provide more opportunities for our children rather than less!

"Why has it taken so long to finally offer this opportunity? You have been talking/preaching about it for over two years!"

I like to think that we tried to be deliberate, prayerful, patient, and thorough in our planning. And, that is why it took so long. Introducing such a systemic alteration to how we do discipleship in our local church is a gigantic undertaking.  Multiple formats have been vetted and we believe this one is the best fit for our ministry. That kind of research takes time, unfortunately.

"Will this negatively impact our other meetings like Sunday Classes, Wednesday Evening, etc.?"

If by negatively, it is meant to mean numerically, yes, there is that possibility. There will be some who are attending these others venues who will choose to attend one of the 2:42 Life Groups that meet at the same time as one of the other meetings. But, when prayer, Bible study, and fellowship are being enjoyed, there is hardly any real negative impact. All positive!

"How will the 2:42 Life Groups cause us to “come together”? Will this divide or create cliques?"

We are commanded to come together (Hebrews 10:25), on the Lord’s Day for corporate worship.  Other opportunities for intentional discipleship should be carved into our schedules. The 2:42 Life Groups gives all of our folks that desire to participate in those kinds of opportunities!  Cliques are built upon the common denominator of selfishness (I Corinthians 3). Discipleship is built upon a community of committed disciples who desire to have some grace-fueled spiritual pressure added to their lives!

"Was there 100% agreement and support for the 2:42 Life Groups from the deacons? If not, what were the concerns?"

Because of the room our Constitution and Bylaws gives the pastor to call for new meetings as he senses the Lord leading, there was no vote necessary. However, at our November 12, 2013, Deacons’ Meeting, our chairman, Peter Whitehouse, called for a vote of support for the 2:42 Life Groups. The chairman made the following motion:

“We as a deacon group are in support of the 2:42 Life Groups and we want to encourage our pastors to begin seeking leadership for this new opportunity.”

The motion was seconded. A vote was then taken in which there was unanimity of “yeas” with two abstaining.

"How will the 2:42 Life Groups impact us financially?"

Based on the context of Acts 2:42-47, such an intentional focus on Bible study, fellowship, and prayer resulted in generosity (“sharing as each had need”) and evangelism (“added daily such as were being saved”). I believe the impact financially will be positive, resulting in more grace-motivated generosity!

"If the 2:42 Life Groups fail, will the pastors take responsibility for the failure?"

Yes, absolutely! While a methodology can certainly fail, Bible study, fellowship, and prayer always succeed!  As pastors, we live under the constant knowledge that “we shall receive the greater judgment” (James 3:1) and we will “give account” (Hebrews 13:17). Yes, we are fully responsible.  Scary.

"What will we be called now, because this is not a “fundamentalist” meeting format?"

Fundamentalists have met in small groups throughout their history, just like Christians have ever since Pentecost.  Now, admittedly, in the last 25 years, most cell and small group ministries have been part of broader evangelicalism. However, the heart of the “original fundamentalism” was a solid, unflinching commitment to the authority of the Scriptures. That being the case, small group discipleship is sprinkled all over the Old and New Testaments. And, it was the chosen methodology by our Lord Jesus. So, maybe we will be called “followers of Christ” rather than “fundamentalists.” That’s not all bad!

"Is this an “accept this or move on” proposition for the TBC membership?"

Not at all.  Little changes for those of our congregation who decide not to be involved in the 2:42 Life Groups.  Of course, I desire all of our folks to plug in to one of these discipleship groups. But, honestly, some of our folks are practicing the “one another(s),” exercising their spiritual gifts, and growing spiritually through the present meetings that are offered. That is just fine. For many, however, this meeting format is going to encourage spiritual growth in a significant way. How can anyone be against that?

"Will this make Sunday morning worship meetings longer?"

No. We will continue to have about an 80- to 90-minute worship service on Lord’s Day mornings.

"Why do we tolerate people squashing our joy about a new opportunity like this? They don’t have to participate!"

Change always causes a reaction. Sometimes these reactions do not demonstrate a Spirit-filled, Scripturally controlled, individual. We should be patient with these folks, like the Lord is with us (II Peter 3:9).  Oh, that we could “rejoice with those who rejoice”!

"What about missionary presentations/reports and special meetings like evangelistic meetings?"

Missionary presentations and furlough reports will continue on selected Sunday Evening Services during one of the “off” months of January, May, or September. Missionaries will also have an opportunity to present or report in occasional combined Sunday Classes. 2:42 Life Groups will not meet during evangelistic meetings, or other special meetings.

"What if my spouse, family, or friends are really against the 2:42 Life Groups but I like them? What do I do?"

Be patient. Each of us comes from different backgrounds and each of us has had different experiences. All of that contributes to one’s opinion of meetings other than the traditional  “familiar four.”  Most open-minded believers will discerningly observe something new. Allow for space to do that.

"Have you thought about the potential problems? Liability? Teachers who teach wrong doctrine? Winter travel?"

Yes! It seems like we have had endless strategy sessions vetting all the different scenarios and challenges. However, issues like liability, teachers who go astray, and travel in the winter have been carefully considered. The 2:42 Life Group Manual will be available to all the participants. There is also a Leader/Host Manual provided for the leaders and hosts. These documents deal with all the ins and outs of 2:42 Life Groups and with as many potential problems we have been able to foresee. No doubt, following the first trimester, we will add to our manuals with items we have learned.

"What if this change causes people to get mad and leave?" 

It will grieve me just like it does when anyone leaves our church. I usually lose sleep. I rehearse in my mind what I could have done (or not done) that would have potentially kept them at Trinity. But, at the end of the day, when I lay my head on my pillow, I have to ask the question, “Am I mobilizing our church to accomplish the mission that Jesus commissioned us to accomplish?” If making changes to ministry methodology to align more properly to Scripture prompts someone to leave, as painful as it is, we must obey our pastoral conscience.

"Don’t you think there has been too much change at TBC? Phew!"

While you can be sure that our hands are not hovering over the “change button,” I do believe that intentional, biblical change is good, not bad. “A growing church is a changing church.” Change just to “change” is disruptive and disorderly. However, change that is Scripturally informed and Spirit-driven, needs to be embraced by God’s people. I also push back against the notion that there has been a lot of change at Trinity. Over the last 16 years I have been at Trinity, there have been very few systemic changes to the ministry methodology.


Benjamin Dussault said...

Good stuff. Awesome new ministry.

Pastor Fuller said...

Comment by David Chamberlain(sorry you had trouble commenting.)

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often. Winston Churchill

It seems to me that those who fight change are either not willing to change or are, perhaps, afraid of what the change will bring.The folks who look for change are those who are likely seeking to grow in some way. The Small Groups that are proposed should be seen as exciting opportunities for individual Spiritual growth. Growing in Christ is not simply a suggestion, it is an imperative. One has only to read through the writings of Paul, Peter, John, James, and others to see the ever-present admonishments to grow spiritually. Paul said clearly in II Timothy 2:15 that we are to study to show ourselves approved unto God: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." What a wonderful way for a Christian to grow in Christ! Enjoying the intimate, loving fellowship of a small group gathered around the Word should banish fear of change from even the toughest opponent! For some, this may be the one opportunity to share their joys, fears, victories, and wonders in Christ that otherwise would go unspoken. This is not "change for the sake of change." This is change for the sake of Christ's work! This is an opportunity for each of us to grow In Him, and For Him through the study of His Word, together! We cannot be more like Him if we do not understand what He said, and why He said it, and what He expects of us having said it. I am convinced that we will emerge from each gathering stronger, bolder, and better servants for Christ. This is not really change, is it? It's simply a better way to achieve what we all are seeking: To Grow In Christ! To Be More Like Him!

Love you, my friend,