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Do groups really matter?

As a pastor in the Groups Ministry, my job often involves convincing people that groups are essential.  And convincing leaders that groups are worth giving their lives for, while waiting for Christ’s return.

But.  Do I believe groups matter?

As a closet-introvert, I prefer solace.  Selfishly, I would never choose to be in a group of people and freely give of myself.  This is obviously not a healthy perspective, but honesty is seldom a healthy dose of reality.  However, my group seems to want to know who I really am and be known in return.

For that, I am grateful.

Without them, an xBox, golf clubs, and a MacBook would be my platonic friends.  An xBox cannot challenge me to become a better husband (a better Jedi perhaps).  Golf clubs do not answer my phone call at 11pm when I must push a car onto a trailer (in the middle of no where).  And a MacBook never needs my encouragement during a difficult time.

Without a group, I could continue practicing my selfish ways uninhibited.  I could shield this practice with smoke screens like, “I’m too busy” or  “I had a bad experience” or “I can study the bible on my own.”  All of which are true for me.

I missed group last night because I was working late.  To my surprise, when I finally did arrive home (~10pm) cars littered my driveway and cul de sac.  My group was still at my house.  Waiting on me.  You know what?  After 3 years together, I would have done the same thing.

What’s happening to me?

Group, community, sharing life, or whatever you want to call it, has changed me.  Without my knowledge and without my permission, others’ needs have become more important than my own.  Their pain, is now my pain. And their victories are mine to celebrate.  And I would wager (were wagering allowed within the unspoken, yet well-codified rules of things pastors are not supposed to do) that I am not the only one.

Have groups (small, cell, life, interest, or on-line) actually made a difference in your life?  Are groups worth the trouble? time? transparency?

If no, why not?  If so, why?  One random commenter will receive a $10 gift card of their choice.

6 billion people.  6 billion stories.  This is just one of those stories.  People.  Life is better together.

Family Life: Parents, We Need Community

(This post was written by Chuck Carringer, Pastor of Family Ministries)

Recently, I had the opportunity to lead the final session of an interest group at Faith Promise Church focused on the book Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. We had a great discussion about each of the five family values and how our parenting will be impacted as we intentionally incorporate these values in the raising of our children. The information and wisdom gleaned from this outstanding book will benefit all those who participated. However, this is not the only benefit to this small group experience. I believe the community experienced by these parents, from other parents will be of equal or perhaps greater benefit.

Parents, we need community. Raising our children is a blessing and in many ways wonderful. It can also be extremely challenging. Wise parents seek community. Parents, we need regular intentional time with other trusted parents. Even better if some are in the same season of parenting and some have “survived” that season. Over time in community, as trust increases and vulnerabilities are shared, amazing benefits are realized.

As Christ followers we need to have close, trusted relationships with other parents committed to raising their children in a Christ-centered home. One of the truths from community relationships is the reality that other parents also have struggles and have experienced similar challenges. This simple fact is comforting and encouraging when you are sure you have somehow failed as a parent. During dark times your community group will be by your side.

Parents, if you are not currently in a community group I encourage you to contact Jennifer Patrick in the Faith Promise Groups office today to be given information about potential groups. Parenting can be tough. Don’t do it alone.

Are you in a community group?

Mug Shots

(This post was written by Drew Wells, Pastor of Young Adults)

The guys all laughed and passed around a nickel newspaper pointing at the picture. As the camera lens zoomed in, it was clear that the front page was a collection of mug shots of local people who had recently been arrested.  One picture was of one of the guys in this young group of Faith Promise men. But why were they laughing?


Three months ago while I was staying up late writing another blog post, an idea surfaced of a reality-based video project that captured a month in the life of people that are connected in a Faith Promise group. No scripts, no actors, no boundaries. This is the best and worst idea I have ever had… that I can remember.

Now three months wiser and two groups later, it is clear to me that life change happens in the context of community. It is also clear that God reveals monumental themes in His character, in the most peculiar of ways.  So, why were these guys laughing at the mug shot?

Just weeks before this group, the young man was arrested, charged, and sentenced to a short but sobering time in the clink.  During that time, the young man accepted Christ and upon release was baptized during a Faith Promise weekend service.   The young man connected in a group, and soon entrusted them with his story.  Weeks later, one of the his group brothers came across the newspaper and brought it to group for a laugh.

These guys were not mocking the humiliation and brokenness of a brother from one of the darkest moments in his story. They were acknowledging a marker that ultimately led to his salvation and renewal.  There was no judgment, no air of superiority.  He is no longer a criminalHe  is a part of the family, subject to all the ribbing and camaraderie that comes with it.

6 billion people.  6 billion stories.  This is just one of those stories.  People.  Life is better together.