Life Group

Why I Believe in Life Groups?

The Self Confessed Ramblings of a Life-A-Holic, by Peter Vaughan

 

Reason 6

 

Please click here for testimonies of members of Gateway Church who attend Life Groups.


Life Groups change lives.
Testimony after testimony in Gateway Church would tell you how people’s lives have not only been supported, helped, encouraged but even in some cases, rescued from deep danger, financial crisis or severe hardship and problems that living in a big city often affords. Since I became a Christian at the age of 13, in the early 80’s, I have been involved in groups that meet in homes. I remember my first group in the home where we began to see people get healed, filled with the spirit and operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit which at that time was not happening in the main meetings. God loves community. I remember the challenge of the word of God coming ever so powerfully on one such occasion during one of the discussions in a life group which sometimes is difficult to be done in the main pulpit. John Piper says that ‘Life Groups do what the preacher can’t do’ and that is, get into the cracks, massage the truth into the places where the preacher can’t go, to help people grow, to admonish and to apply truth into the reality of everyday lives.


Peter Vaughan, 18/03/2012


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Reason 5

Please click here for testimonies of members of Gateway Church who attend Life Groups.


Life groups have at their advantage, unlimited meeting space and unlimited meeting times.
You can’t run out of homes, restaurants, apartments, or coffee shops in which to meet and they don’t get booked up by those wanting to have a wedding such as we often face in the hotel where we meet. The beauty is this, as the church grows the number of homes to meet in also grows. In a city like Dubai with various schedules and work timings it can sometimes be difficult to get everyone together at one time to meet. On any given Friday morning when we have our celebration meetings, we estimate that we can have 100+ people who can’t make it due to conflicting schedules. Many of our members can’t make it at all to the big Friday meeting and instead are able to fellowship in homes across the city, meeting at various times and places.


Peter Vaughan, 11/03/2012


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Reason 4


Please click here for testimonies of members of Gateway Church who attend Life Groups.


The life group structure of a church helps build leaders and mobilise the ordinary believer.
For some, attending church means falling asleep during long meetings, sitting in hard pews, meaningless recital of liturgy or an overload of teaching that means you grow fat without doing anything. Instead, the early church managed to mobilise its members. In fact, upon its birth and thereafter the church seems to be exploding with life and in Acts 2:42-47, as you read it through, you get the distinct feeling that lack of growth, lack of ownership, lack of leaders, lack of finances or indeed lack of places to meet are not their problem. This passage gives us a picture of the whole church being mobilised. They may have lacked organisation or even an ability to keep in step with the growth and pastoral care requirements of the growing church. This is evidenced in Acts 6 when some of the widows (900 from early sources) were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. No problem! Let’s appoint some more leaders to handle the problem.

Rather than protect our nice little buildings, raise finances for the ageing church roof or argue about the latest controversy; when the church is mobilised we may as well just give up trying to sanitise Christianity, trying to contain it within a building, or even try and organise into nice neat departments. Instead, step back and see the larger body at work.

As in the example cited above, (Acts 12) you see that meeting in homes is not heavily dependent upon highly trained bible college degree holders but gives room for different levels of leaders to grow and develop. In fact the whole idea is that every member gets to “do the stuff” as John Wimber used to say. The heart of God is to get every believer functioning in their God given role, “to each one grace has been given” (Eph 4:7) and a part of God’s handiwork is to get each one to do the works which are prepared in advance. Eph 2:10.

Let’s face it, we are not going to change the world with just a few trained leaders. One of the hallmarks of the church in Antioch and the spread of Christianity in the early church at that time was the influence of ‘ordinary believers’ taking the gospel with them everywhere they went. And it was the church in Antioch that the phrase ‘Christian’ first came to be used. This was not through its leaders but its ordinary members, whom the city population saw something of Christ in them, ‘mini-Christs’. Any church model which is dependent on ‘clergy’ will decline in comparison to a model which releases ‘laity’. Mark Driscoll says, ‘Jesus didn’t call the trained instead he trained the called’. Leadership is a calling and the endowment of grace goes alongside it.

Life groups have at their advantage, unlimited meeting space and unlimited meeting times.
You can’t run out of homes, restaurants, apartments, or coffee shops in which to meet and they don’t get booked up by those wanting to have a wedding such as we often face in the hotel where we meet. The beauty is this, as the church grows the number of homes to meet in also grows. In a city like Dubai with various schedules and work timings it can sometimes be difficult to get everyone together at one time to meet. On any given Friday morning when we have our celebration meetings, we estimate that we can have 100+ people who can’t make it due to conflicting schedules. Many of our members can’t make it at all to the big Friday meeting and instead are able to fellowship in homes across the city, meeting at various times and places.

Life Groups change lives.
Testimony after testimony in Gateway Church would tell you how people’s lives have not only been supported, helped, encouraged but even in some cases, rescued from deep danger, financial crisis or severe hardship and problems that living in a big city often affords. Since I became a Christian at the age of 13, in the early 80’s, I have been involved in groups that meet in homes. I remember my first group in the home where we began to see people get healed, filled with the spirit and operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit which at that time was not happening in the main meetings. God loves community. I remember the challenge of the word of God coming ever so powerfully on one such occasion during one of the discussions in a life group which sometimes is difficult to be done in the main pulpit. John Piper says that ‘Life Groups do what the preacher can’t do’ and that is, get into the cracks, massage the truth into the places where the preacher can’t go, to help people grow, to admonish and to apply truth into the reality of everyday lives.


Peter Vaughan, 04/03/2012


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Reason 3

 

Please click here for testimonies of members of Gateway Church who attend Life Groups.



Life Groups get more people involved using their gifts of hospitality, teaching, exhortation, and they engage the body in pastoral care etc.
Ephesians says that true growth is when “each part does its work”. This is hardly possible in a ‘Big meeting’. No, the nitty gritty of church life is what happens the other six days of the week when we go to each other’s homes, fellowship with one another, pray together and share our lives with our Christian brothers and sisters.
Eph 4: 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.The book of Ephesians identifies the main job of its leaders as to helping the body, each member to fulfill their role, which is done in relation to one another in life giving community. Therefore pastoral care is the joint responsibility of the members of each life giving community. Leaders equip the saints to look after one another who in turn build one another up in love. Eph 4 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up”


Peter Vaughan, 26/02/2012


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Reason 2

 

Please click here for testimonies of members of Gateway Church who attend Life Groups.


Life groups are a tremendous tool for discipleship.
Discipleship has become a missing ingredient from many people’s lives where going to large meetings forms the major part of a Christian’s diet. The problem is we can’t just live on Steak, though a few South Africans might tell you differently. If large meetings are ‘Steak in our diet’ then we must also have vegetables, fruit, rice and a bit of masala. We can easily congratulate ourselves on a job well done when we attend a big worship service and hear a gifted preacher, who makes us feel that we are already changing the world, when in reality our lives are often messy, we struggle with sin, we lack community and rather than fulfill the Great commission, we struggle to get up in the mornings to read our bible. As James puts it (James 1:22) we are not just to ‘hear the word’ and think the job is done and like that juicy Steak, we must take our time to chew it and then put its benefits into ‘good use’. Community is where we can put it to good use, where we can put into practise much of the teaching of Jesus, especially the multiple commands of “one anothering” in the bible, e.g. John 13:34 “love one another” and elsewhere “admonish one another”, “be at peace with one another”, “bear one another’s burdens”, “be kind to one another” and so on.
Without being in deep relationships as Christians, it is impossible to stay on track. The word of God says in 1 John 1:7: “if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
In other words, fellowship with one another and walking a cleansed lifestyle are what the author refers to as results of “walking in the light” and being in true fellowship with God. Some would say at this point that “I don’t need others” but this passage says that this is like saying, “I dont have sin”. It is only our brothers and sisters in Christ who can help us realise the areas of our life that we need help and if we say we don’t have sin we are deceived. In reality, we need one another and we need communities built together in love where prayer, encouragement and word based living are the daily, bread and butter of the church. In celebration meetings, the emphasis is mostly on ‘hearing the Word’ and ‘celebrating who God is’ but in community based groups such as Life Groups the emphasis is on ‘application’ and upon ‘doing the word’ and ‘living a worship lifestyle’.


Peter Vaughan, 19/02/2012


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Reason 1

Please click here for testimonies of members of Gateway Church who attend Life Groups.

They follow the early church model of meeting in homes.

Early records of church life show that meeting in one another’s homes, in community, seems to be the constant and sure part of church life. It is actually in what format or even organisational structure they were able to meet as ‘one large congregation’, which is more in doubt. Throughout his letters, Paul, seems to constantly be greeting the Church that meets in various people’s homes. The church, which was born in the book of Acts, seems to be spread out throughout the city. You would think this would hamper their ability to get together but instead they are knitted together in deeply relational, smaller house based communities. Acts and indeed most of the New Testament letters are graced with homes at the centre of church life. One thriving example is in Acts, Ch. 12; just after James had been killed (who happened to be the senior leader of the church at that time), which soon follows with the arrest of Peter. With your two main leaders taken off the scene you would think that the church may come to a halt; No! The church is praying and you get the impression that throughout the city there are groups of people meeting in prayer. As a result of their prayers (ordinary believers) an Angel comes and rescues Peter who then finds himself knocking on one of the homes dedicated to church community. Rather than falling apart at the seams, the church seems to be thriving and Peter even has a difficult time getting in as the servant girl, Rhoda, is so overwhelmed with Joy that she forgets to let him in. In other words the strength of the church was not in its senior leaders, though that was important, the strength of the church was in ‘community’ and in ordinary believers being mobilised in community. A church with its laity at the forefront rather than its leaders will find that when persecution or hardship comes, rather than halt its progress, the church actually thrives even more.


Peter Vaughan, 19/02/2012


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Testimonies:

What some people recently said when asked.

I love my life group because….

 

"I love my life group because... we learn to grow in love and faith together."

Lorna

 

"I love my life group because....we learn, support, cry and grow together and there is a lovely feeling of fellowship"

Tina


"I love life group because it is our family away from home. It provides a place where you can share tears of sorrow and tears of joy and no-one judges you. In fact everyone supports you, prays for you, offers helpful solutions and best of all they make sure that they are part of the solution so you are never having to go through things alone. Life group also builds you up in Christ. Strengthens your understanding of what love, acceptance, forgiveness is as it is demonstrated by the body of Christ sitting in your living room. I love it."
Becky, Motor City

 

“I love my life group because I feel the presence of God every time; our bible studies make me stronger in my faith and everyone in the group is so supportive when it comes to the difficulties of life. Last year I had a terrible situation in my work place where I was accused and put in trouble for something I had never done. I felt so disappointed and I felt so down because all my colleagues were pointing their fingers at me. I am so thankful to God that he gave me a very supportive lifegroup that continued to pray for me every day. God is so great and he saved from this terrible situation in my work and I was surprised when all of my colleagues asked for forgiveness for accusing me. This is my greatest testimony in all my life."
Sheryl, Sharjah Mega Mall

“God has given me another home in them and I really feel that I have a family that I can call my own and I have learned to have an intimate relationship with God. I remember many times how I felt God’s presence in the middle of the storm through my life group family. God uses them as instruments to strengthen my faith and to continue my walk with God no matter what the circumstances. I was not alone when the doctors suspected that my mother had a malignant cancer. It was such a difficult time but God made it easier as I felt the presence in each other’s arms, through their prayers and encouragement. My mum had a successful operation and God declared that cancer doesn’t have authority in her body.”
Lea, Al Nahda

Springs Life Group
- “it is real and we can be ourselves” Praveen
- “good fellowship / feeling accepted” Ralph
- “encouraging and uplifting” Priscilla
- “enjoy the fellowship” Malar
- “enjoy fellowship / learning and sharing” Vera
- “enjoy meeting everyone” Madam (Nisha’s mum)
- “diversity of experience / great worship” Yinka
- “real / no one is exceptionally holy” Moji
- “opportunity to fellowship / great time with brothers and sisters in Christ” Nisha
- “spiritual support / prayer support” Doreen
- “opportunity to build relationship that is real and personal” KW
- “it is encouraging and creates an opportunity to get know other people.” Christina
- “enjoy receiving nourishment and giving to others” Anthony
- “good fellowship / worship and sometimes food” Jessy

“I love my life group because I enjoy the presence of God and His Holy Spirit. I enjoy sharing and being able to share my faith, testimony and aspirations. I can put my prayer requests forward and know that He will hear my petition”.
Urvashi Kadam, Tecom

“I love my life group because it helps me in my spiritual growth. It is a training ground for me to be more confident and more bold in my walk with God. I love seeing each of the people in my life group every Thursday, joining our hearts together in worshipping the Lord. I love leading the praise and worship. It gives me a chance to exercise my talents. They are my family here in Dubai.”
Vanessa, Al Riqqa, Deira

“I love my life group because we get to know each other by spending time and developing the friendship which otherwise is not possible. I get to use my gifts and it is a place that gives me opportunities to grow and be fruitful where I now have a group of people to whom I can share my problems or issues and get their help and prayer support. Being in a life group exposes my children to the importance of worship and prayer even in a small gathering and they can also get involved in everything. It’s not only on Fridays that we worship, hear the word and pray, but it’s good to do so mid-week.”
Shalin, Al Wahda Street, Sharjah

“I love my life group because God has used it in helping me cope with difficult times. It has taught me to open my life to others and at the same time taught me how to accept others in my life. I never really appreciated life groups until God had wonderfully and graciously joined us to one.”
Egie, Al Riqqa, Deira

“I love my life group. I really do for many reasons, mostly because they are just ‘normal guys!’- Guys going through life to grow in their faith and we are a big family. I’m humbled that truly our life group are not just doing life with each other but life groups exist to bring life to others.”
Melchor, Mega mall, Sharjah

“I love my life group because I found my extended family in Christ where I can openly & comfortably share my circumstances. I thank God for giving me peace of mind this week after I have prayed & my life group to give me strength and understanding”
Daisy, Al Riqqa, Deira

“I love my life group because this is the place where I can recharge and share how God is working in my life. My brothers and sisters can give me encouragement and prayers whenever I need it. I can ask the question and learn more about God. Life group is the best way to make and develop disciples of Christ.”
Jimuel, Sharjah

“I love my life group because each member prays for each other. Everyone gives encouragement and shares words and participates. Our life group has been very supportive through praying for my family. This year has been very colourful to me as my prayer of having my daughter come and study here in Dubai is now a reality. This year God touched the heart of my husband to allow my daughter to come, next year I’m hopeful that God will also allow my husband to come here as well. His will be done. It is truly good to encounter that God is good. God is amazing and worthy to be praised.”
Marjorie, Riqqa, Deira


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Peter Vaughan, 19/01/2012

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