Multiplication: Community Groups
Community is a defining aspect of the Christian life. We need the support, knowledge, truth and accountability that commu- nity offers. We grow as Christians when we are in community. So, it is only natural that Christ Covenant has a vast network of Community Groups that meet throughout metro Atlanta weekly. This network began on Tuesday evenings along Golfview Drive. A few young adults gathered for dinner at the Dees’ home followed by an hour or so of Bible study, prayer and focused discussion. This group grew - and grew - over the next few months, leading to new community groups quickly establishing routines and attendees of their own.
At the time of this printing, our church is nearly eight months old. We sat down with a few community group members, giving them the opportunity to share how community encourages and guides their own Christian life.
A homemade taco buffet or a stack of pizza boxes lining the length of the bar as Paige greets each person as they walk through the front door. Several members have started taking seats around the wooden table outside with ice cold La Croix cans or bottles of water. This is a Tuesday night at the Dees home where members of Christ Covenant are creating a community of their own. Courtney Lathouwers has seen this group evolve from the early members of Christ Covenant to friends bringing friends because they want to share this culture. “My hope is that God will use our weekly gatherings to grow the members in our faith so that we may be reflect[ing] Christ in what can be a dark corporate environment. I hope that our relationships with the Lord will be rooted in truth and knowledge of Scripture so that we may minister to Atlanta boldly, without pause,” said Courtney.
At the weekly meetings, the group typically enjoys a meal together before discussing the previous Sunday sermon or a biblical group reading such as Making Sense of God by Tim Keller. The group is a mix of single and married with various careers all seeking deeper insight and leadership from our senior pastor. Courtney noted that the Keller book allowed her to explore ways to speak to unchurched friends. “It also reminded me of the times where I may have doubted aspects of the Bible and how I now trust fully in Jesus,” she said. The Dees opened their home to this group in the early stages of our church to create an atmosphere of discussion and deeper relationships with each other. “Meeting weekly to look deeply into scripture has drastically transformed my walk with the Lord. I have regularly attended church on Sundays and maintained a daily quiet time for many years, but there is something invaluable about meeting with fellow believers, hearing what God is teaching them, gaining different perspective due to others’ life experiences, and the accountability that comes with a smaller group of people,” Courtney shared.
In Sutton Middle School’s library, there is a circle of chairs being filled with Christ Covenant members as they gather together before our Sunday service. Brad Smith opens with prayer and the reading of a Psalms after the group catches up with each other after a week filled with work, hobbies and daily life. “We hope to grow together in Christ, becoming disciples who make disciples,” said Brad as he shared his mission for this community group. The group has created a culture where members are opening up about their own personal prayer walks and even facilitating discussions on their own. The group is a diverse mixture of marital status, kids/no kids and age allowing opportunities for mentor/mentee relationships to form. Additionally, Brad expressed the impact to his own life from leading a group. He says, "Personally, having a committed area of service to others is so helpful as the Lord has used this as means of his grace in giving me accountability. I also have been so encouraged by sharing life with and learning from others in different seasons of life than my own.” In the midst of our church growth, joining a community group can allow for personal relationships and challenge members to learn from each other.
Each Sunday morning, Carly Hammond joins the Smith group in the library. “I love it because it renews my mind and further prepares me for church service,” she says. Carly shared that the group communicates throughout the week to help each other prepare for discussions with Brad sending scripture and biographies for additional reading. Carly didn’t hesitate to share how the group has impacted her the most and included a personal challenge for herself. She says, “The Smith group has really helped me realize more that I am not alone in the fight against sin. There's room for powerful healing when people come together and shed light on their own struggles and experiences. Our group has also encouraged me to reach out more to the people around me, whether it's a close friend or someone at the grocery store, to spread the gospel and to be a warm, loving spirit.” How incredible is that? This group is walking through different seasons of life together and weaving together a community within our Christ Covenant family.
A Thursday evening at the Deeter home is a lot like a group of friends gathering to catch up and simply enjoy each other’s company. The group gathers in the living room in front of the fireplace, more often than not with each person sitting in the same spot week after week, and starts off with life updates and stories of the past seven days. How has your week been? Any exciting plans for this weekend? Any new updates on this prayer request or that one? It’s a time to get to know one another and fellowship.
“My favorite aspect [of my community group] is that we share what God is doing in our lives, talk about how God is using us in our lives and we pray for each other,” says Joyce Mueller.
When it comes time to dive into Scripture, the group opens with a prayer and lets the sermon-based lesson plan guide the discussion, studying each word and phrase in-depth to glean a better, more contextual understanding. These conversations often reinforce how, even though it was written thousands of years ago, the Bible remains relevant in our everyday lives.
“My goal in my group is to gain a further understanding of the Bible, develop a growing relationship with God and develop and maintain meaningful Christian relationships…,” says Joyce. “And I do believe I am developing meaningful Christian relationships.”