So what’s up with Life Groups?
When the world went through a big transition in March of 2020, we had to temporarily close the doors on our facilities — but many of you were able to keep trucking along. Whether on Zoom, FaceTime or in-person, most Life Groups attempted to keep meeting.
Zoom became a part of everyone’s world and we tried our best to gather on that platform or one like it. For some, this worked. Our School of Ministry continues to utilize meeting in a virtual space and while it may not be preferable to meeting in-person, it has been sufficient. A few other groups have had similar success. Many haven’t. Despite best efforts, it just hasn’t worked out for lots of Life Groups.
I want you to know — if you identify with the second part, those groups where it just never came together online — please don’t feel bad. It’s not just your group, it’s not just your leadership. All over the country, small groups from churches large and small have had similar tales of some success and a lot of frustration.
At the same time, our church has never needed Life Groups more than it does right now. I get messages every week from people who are craving relationship. Spiritual apathy, mental health issues, loneliness have all been on the rise for months and months. It’s heartbreaking to see a need and not be able to fill it. I can meet with someone, I can pray for someone — and we do. But having those real iron-sharpens-iron relationships that are formed in Life Groups is so important — it’s not replaced by having one meeting with a pastor.
As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.
So where do we go from here? With the pandemic still affecting people and the risks that were present in March still present today… This is something we’re continuing to pray and work through right now. We don’t have all the answers, but I want to give you an update and make an ask to you.
- We won’t have a regular Life Group Launch. Normally, at the end of January, we launch Life Groups in a spectacular way with big services dedicated to just that. That won’t be happening this year. While we will highlight the groups we do have going on during our services, we won’t be able to do it the same way at this time.
- We still need and will have Life Groups. I’ve said this before, but we need your group more than ever. We need you, as a leader, more than ever! If you’ve been leading a group this entire time — thank you. It’s so important that people are able to stay connected to the church body. If you got discouraged by what happened last year — I understand, trust me. As a church, when trying to figure out how to minister to people who were no longer in the seats, we’ve had a lot of moments where discouragement was knocking on the door — sometimes banging on the door! But let me remind you —
“…but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
- When we’re out of strength, he renews it… and our strength will always run out. His is more than enough. Our church is better when you’re leading. I’m praying for a renewal in you this year.
- We hope to have a larger Life Group Launch when the weather warms. One thing that we have learned is that — many groups do great meeting in open-air spaces, like driveways, cul de sacs, garages, parks, patios, etc. The risk to health is considerably lower in these settings, so as the weather changes, we are hoping engagement will rise as groups are able to utilize that.
Here’s what I’m asking of you…
- Pray for your church. The first step in all our journeys should be in prayer. Ask God how you can be involved, for creative ideas on how to get people connected and engaged.
- Consider leading a group. Either in-person or virtually, either now or later this year, we have a huge need for places to send people for connection. I understand that not everyone is able to right now. I know the concerns associated with meeting in-person and I’m not asking you to do that if you’re uncomfortable doing so. I also know that some have no desire to get on Zoom ever again in their lives and will prefer to wait for the warmer weather outdoor options. I respect wherever you stand on these issues. But if you have a creative idea on how to help the unconnected get connected — let’s talk about it and figure something out. You’re certainly needed.
- Fill out this form: https://nlcfortsmith.typeform.com/to/B9eijqwz // It would be so helpful to us if you would take about a minute to fill this out — whether you’re planning on leading a group or not.
Thanks for how you have served and led over the years at NLC. I’m praying for every leader today. Blessings!