Home groups are where people can get real. The worship service is the place where people have their best foot forward, they get to experience a moment of “heaven on earth” with connections and singing and they can be taught blessed truths from God’s Word. But the worship service is not a place where very many will want to be very open about challenges and growth opportunities in life.
Fellowship Groups are places where additional book studies, topical studies and elective studies can be done. Fellowship Groups also are where relationships can begin and they provide some opportunities for men to teach to mixed groups. They can be a great place from which a large group might gather for a Christmas party or picnic or retreat get-a-way. But when there are thirty or more, it is difficult for people to become very open about spiritual growth challenges.
It’s in home group where people can get real. But what about people who don’t go to the leader’s church? What if they come under another spiritual leader’s spiritual leadership? Should they be excluded from home group? Consider these principles about church involvement.
It is Required of Leadership
Home group leadership must not only be members in the home group’s church, but also active participants. The church is providing the coaching, the training and the spiritual support for the home group, so there is an accountability that the participants should expect. This accountability reflects back to the respect and awe for the holiness of God and the nurturing that people should be able to rely upon and trust as coming from church leadership who cares and stands for Truth.
Home Group Leadership Must be Committed Leadership
Home group leadership must be committed leadership as part of the training process. There is a doctrinal and leadership survey that each leader must complete as well as the Leadership Commitment form that lists the standards and commitments that Grace requires of each leader. The purpose is for the sake of the ministry of Grace and the participants who count on integrity of leadership and standards of holiness.
It is not Required of Participants
Participants are not required to be members at Grace. In fact, we encourage new attenders at Grace to join a home group as soon as possible as a way of identifying with Grace and beginning or continuing their spiritual growth and discipleship. Over time individuals, who seek to make Grace their home, may go through a Belonging Class and seek membership.
Home Group can be a Back Door to coming to Church
Grace sees home groups as a back door for entrance into church. Leadership encourages people to invite their neighbors and other friends to join their home group as a way to reach people for Jesus. As visitors get to know their home group and experience the love we share for each other, maybe they will want to come to Grace also!
Do Provide Positive Comments about the Church
It is important to make positive comments about Grace. Home Group leadership and participants should regularly make comments about what they are learning in church, how their lives are being transformed through church activities and the experience of spiritual growth as a result of being in Grace.
Do not be Negative about any other Church
On the one hand, do not be negative about any other church. Do not make “cute cuts” toward any other church, denomination or religion. A “cute cut” is intended to be a short quip that is “funny” about someone or something. It may “cut” and it may seem “cute,” but is inappropriate in any of our Grace ministries. Let God take care of dealing with other ministries. If someone has a question about another ministry, deal with it judiciously as appropriate, but privately if any depth is needed.
Do not allow Someone to draw People to his Church from your Home Group
On the other hand, do not allow a person to draw people from your home group away from the host church. You, as the leader, would need to meet with the person outside of the group discussion and ask them to either not seek to invite people away (proselytizing) or simply not attend the home group. If there is something to learn from the person, be humble enough to learn from him.
Do not exclude that Person, even if he continues to go to another Church
Above all, do not exclude any person from another ministry. Even if he continues to attend another church, treat him as if he is part of your family, because that is what a home group is intended to be.
Home group is one part of church life. The long term desire is that everyone in the home group would be involved in the host church. That creates the best unity and harmony, however, there are many reasons why someone may attend your home group and you, as a leader, need to consider that person as a welcome participant.