"Trinity's community groups are a place where it's okay to not be okay all the time!" - Nick, husband, father
What are the Distinctives of Trinity Community Groups?
- They usually include food, fellowship, discusion of the week's semon, sharing stories, and prayer.
- They are led by trained and supported facilitators.
- They meet once a week for three months at a time then take a short break.
- They are committed to multiplying.
- They are committed to developing new facilitators by coaching new leaders.
- They are a great place to introduce new people to Trinity.
How do Community Groups Fit into Trinity as a Whole?
Community Groups are the primary place for pastoral care at Trinity. Churches do one of two things: they either practice systematic care and encouragement of the congregation or systematic neglect of the congregation. Community Groups are the means through which we seek to practice the former. Our network of Community Groups serves as the nervous system of our church. In them, the gospel is used to motivate people towards a richer relationship with God. In them, the gospel is used as a balm to apply to the wounds we incur in this broken world. In them, the gospel is used to call and motivate people into the service of God's kingdom: in response to God’s grace, people are urged to develop lives of moral beauty, integrity, and other-centeredness and to discover and use their gifts to carry out ministry both within the congregation and to the world. Though the Bible does not command us to organize small group ministry, it does presuppose that a significant relational life exists within the church. Where this does not happen naturally, the church must cultivate it. Community Groups are Trinity’s chosen means of cultivating that relational life. Because of their foundational role in the life of our church, we hope that a great majority of Trinity attendees will be involved in a Gommunity Group.
What is the purpose of a Community Group?
1. To make disciples
The words of Matthew 28:19-20 are familiar to most, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Few understand the radical nature of this command, however. Jesus commands us to make disciples, not just converts, and he connects discipleship with obedience. Discipleship is the process by which a person becomes a more fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.
How does this happen? Scripture makes it very clear that this does not happen in isolation. All major exhortations in the New Testament to holy living are plural (Rom 6:1-23; Gal 5:13-6:10; Eph 4:17-6:18), meaning that discipleship is to successfully happen in the context of a loving and caring fellowship. Community Groups are the place where the truths of scripture are applied to life through loving confrontation and healthy accountability.
2. To provide fellowship and mutual care
Fellowship can be defined as seeking to share with others what God has made known to you while letting them share with you what they know of him as a means of finding strength, refreshment, and instruction for one's own soul. Community Groups exist to create a context for dynamic fellowship.
As believers spend time in fellowship, they become aware of the needs of others, and opportunities arise for them to care for each other. Scripture commands believers to care for one another. “God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Cor 12:24-26). Community Groups are one of the most strategic venues through which this mutual care can be achieved. Why? Because it is nearly impossible to achieve this level of care in a Sunday morning worship service. It is too easy for people to slip through the cracks. In the context of a Community Group, people can give and receive specific, personal care. These groups also serve as a key way to integrate people who join our community and to keep leadership aware of the concerns and troubles that face the members of our congregation which might otherwise remain hidden.
3. To exercise spiritual gifts
God has given spiritual gifts to every Christian (1 Cor 12:1-7). He fully expects us to use them. However, the church is sometimes compared to a football stadium where you find 22 people who desperately need a rest and thousands of people who desperately need exercise. Community Groups are a place where spiritual gifts are discovered and exercised within the group itself, the larger church, and the world. They are a place where vision for ministry and service are developed.
4. To discover Christianity
Community Groups are a place where individuals who are seeking truth can be invited and encouraged to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Nonbelievers, because they are created in the image of God, long to be a part of a community of believers who love each other well. We see this dynamic occur in the early church in Acts 2:47, “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Authentic Christian community is a powerful evangelistic tool.
In addition, Community Groups serve as a place where we can remind one another of our call to share the gospel and pray for those with whom we are sharing the good news that God has reconciled himself to us in Jesus Christ.