What To Expect In A Life Group
Life Group Structure
Do you ever have the urge to buy school supplies in early August? Do you feel like the world winds down to a slow crawl from Thanksgiving to New Years? Do you find yourself eager for a fresh start when spring arrives?
We have all grown up in the modern educational system, and we are wired to associate feelings of new beginnings and inherent endings within seasons of the year. There is a natural flow in how we relate to the progression of our months.
Our educational structure defines our culture. People adhere to the rhythm of the educational system throughout their developmental years. As grown-ups, that doesn’t change. Either our lives still revolve around the academic calendar because we have kids in school, or we are likely involved in some form of continuing education ourselves. Even the farthest removed adult still feels like he or she should get a summer vacation. We know that and intrinsically respond to the structure of this system.
This truth plays a significant role in the development of Church Alive's semester-based Life Group philosophy. The same type of system we have all been in for most of our lives also work best for Life Groups. That is, a semester-based system, modeled after the prevalent American educational calendar.
People grow best through built-in “stress and release” periods that make up the school year. In other words, we grow most effectively in a semester-based system. Semesters are, by definition, time-bound.
While most Life Group philosophies tell you that groups need to last anywhere from 18 months until-death-do-us-part, we believe that 8 to 12 weeks is the perfect length for a healthy group. When you put time-bound groups in place and mold them around the natural flow of the academic year, you encourage more people to sign up. Also, you guard against the genuine danger of stagnation and open the door for new guests to participate.
Church Alive offers Life Group in a three-semester rotation: Spring, Summer, and Fall. The spring and fall semesters are 12-week commitments while the summers are 8-week.
How To Sign Up For a Group
We fight hard to make it crystal clear how to sign up for a group at Church Alive. Here are three particularly useful ways:
1. Sign Up During Our Weekend Service
Signing up during service is the most common way to join a Life Group. As you enter the Church Alive facility for our Weekend Service, you will receive a program. This program will include an outline of the message, a communication card, and a magazine listing available Life Groups for the semester.
As you thumb through the magazine, you will notice that we label each group with a specific number. Once you identify which group works best take note of the group number and write it on the backside of your Communication card.
2. Use Our Website
We have a direct link at abq.group that will take you straight to the Life Group information on our website. Feel free to use it and sign up with minimal effort. Or click on the tab above that says, "Join A Life Group."
3. Sign Up at the Groups Table in the Lobby
Many of our group leaders are available after service in the lobby near the Life Group table. They will be wearing a blue lanyard. They will be familiar with our Life Group environment and will have general knowledge of all groups available. You can sign up at the table in just a few seconds.
What To Expect During My First Meeting
90 Minutes or less
Time is a valuable commodity. It should never be wasted and must to be prioritized. At Church Alive we believe that setting aside the time to engage with Christ and other believers in life-giving fellowship is of high importance. It serves as an indispensable aid for your spiritual growth and personal health. Therefore, we ask you to prioritize your time and engage in a Life Group.
Simultaneously, we want to be respectful of your time. That is why we have asked our Life group leaders to make the first meeting, and every meeting to follow, 90 minutes or less. We have asked them to keep from dragging beyond that time limit.
On rare occasions, a Life Group may require a longer meeting time. If this becomes necessary, as much as possible, we will look to disclose that with you ahead of time.
At Church Alive, we are passionate about Life Groups because it aligns with the mission that we believe God has for us to accomplish.
To maximize your personal growth, and the development of others, we ask you to enter into covenant with one another. Covenant is a way of saying, "an agreement taken seriously." We are a firm believer that people take serious those expectations that the group takes seriously, and Life Group is undoubtedly one of importance. With the covenant, you are coming together before the Lord and each other to state that you will take this short-term commitment seriously.
People grow best when accountability is high, and expectations are clear. Also, agreements on the front end prevent disagreements later on; which lead to a better experience for all group members and the leader. We ask our Life Group leaders to spend at least 15 minutes on the first night to go over the covenant with you. During the first night you are asked to make the following five commitments:
1. I will make this group a priority by attending each week, keeping up with my assignments and participating openly in group discussion.
Now, let's be reasonable. We know that you will come across a scheduling conflict, here or there along the way. It's ok. These things happen, but please offer the Group Leader the courtesy of knowing ahead of time so that that preparation can be made accordingly.
2. I will regularly attend Church Alive services and contribute to the ministry of the church through my attendance, giving, service, and inviting of others.
3. I will strive to build authentic relationships with those in this group by showing care, providing encouragement and praying for their needs.
4. I will respect the members of my team by keeping relevant group conversations confidential.
5. I will explore my next steps for spiritual growth honestly.
Oh, one more. Have fun! There is nowhere in the bible that says that you cannot enjoy your adventure along the way.
Common Question on the Covenant
Occasionally we have questions asked about the covenant. Here are some common questions that we find:
1. Do I have to attend Church Alive weekend worship services to be in a Life Group?
This question comes from the second statement in the covenant where we ask group members to “attend, give, serve and invite” as part of the Life Group experience.
The short answer is, “Yes, as much as possible.” Life Groups are not meant to be standalone stations of spiritual growth but are part of the overall commitment to being a fully engaged member of our church.
Our philosophy is that someone who has another home church should not be a part of Life Group at Church Alive. While some may think that our mindset on this issue goes against the Kingdom mentality that all churches are on the same team, the opposite is true.
We believe that encouraging someone to keep the commitments they have made to their church is one of the most beneficial things we can do for God’s kingdom. Every church needs its own fully committed people as we work together to build up the kingdom of God.
2. Do I have to commit to attending every week if I sign the covenant?
This question often comes from the first statement in the covenant. Our intent with this statement is that you will attend Life Group every time it is at all possible. Everyone will miss from time to time due to a sick child, last-minute work responsibilities, etc., but the commitment is to make your presence a priority.
As a common courtesy, if you know that you will be unable to attend a meeting, make sure to contact the group leader ahead of time. Also, please keep up with the reading you may have missed.
3. Do I have to sign the covenant to attend the group?
Again, the short answer to this question is “Yes,” but talk to the pastoral staff, or group leader, and share your concern further. Often the issue is driven because of a lack of clarity or misunderstanding of why the agreement is necessary.
The pastoral staff does not collect these covenants. There’s no need for them to go on file at the church, as they are commitments made between group members for only that one semester. The primary interest of Church Alive in the matter is to ensure that agreements are made ahead of time to prevent disagreements later on; which can ultimately affect the church.
You are probably familiar with what a standard syllabus looks like since you came through the educational system. As you might expect, a syllabus is merely a list of critical dates for the upcoming group along with the reading/study assignments for each week the group will meet.
Even if a group doesn’t have outside reading, a syllabus lets everyone know the meeting dates and what topics will be discussed on those days.
These will most likely include:
When the group will be off
When the group will meet at a different location
When the group will do an evangelism outreach together
When the group will do something fun together
Date of the last group meeting
Ice Breaker Questions
An icebreaker is an activity that helps people take the focus off of themselves to feel at ease with each other. It may look like a game, but its purpose is to get people to open up and share. On the first night, don't be surprised if the Life Group leader uses this tool to strengthen the chemistry of the group.
It is a tool that brings everyone into a common focus and helps bind people together, usually on a superficial level, but that’s what it’s supposed to achieve. They are extremely valuable both for Life Group members and the Life Group leader.
Is There a Group For My Unique Needs?
We make every effort to identify and target the felt needs of our body through various types of groups. You can find the Group type in the title of the group. Below is a list of the various classifications we use:
Gender - Specific Group
Family/ Marriage Group
The Influence Group (Mid/High School)
Impact Group (Community Service - Evangelism)
Where Do I Buy The Curriculum?
In many cases, the group may not require material cost at all. You can determine that information by looking at the group description. Feel free to ask the group leader if you need assistance. If we use a curriculum, most books are available on Amazon; both new and used. Usually for a very low cost.
What If I Sign Up But Don't Like It?
First, we encourage you to spend at least a few weeks in your environment as it takes time to grow comfortable with one another. If you are still having trouble adjusting, feel free to inform the Group Leader of the challenges you are facing. Finally, if your group is still not working out, you can always wait for the next semester around the corner to find a group that will work for you.
Is There Childcare?
That depends on the group. Some have the capacity, while others do not. The group description will inform you.