The following is an attempt to answer some of the most often asked questions about Life Groups. While these will be helpful, keep in mind that our methods are subject to change as we discover new and better ways to accomplish the task that God has given us.
What is a Life Group?
Life Groups are home-based Bible study and fellowship groups. The groups vary in size, but the typical group is around 6-12 people. Some have more and some less. These groups meet weekly to study God’s Word and to share life with one another. Each group is led by a committed volunteer and host. The average meeting length is 1.5 hours and never more than 2 hours. Light refreshments are served during this time. Each group is encouraged to enjoy some sort of social events at least once per quarter and to serve together in the community at least two times each year.
How important are Life Groups?
We cannot express the potential of Life Groups here at Lakeview. As we grow it becomes more essential that we decentralize our ministries. Life Groups will provide every member with an intimate fellowship where real ministry can take place. Spending time together weekly is essential to believers gaining the support and nurture that they need to continue to grow in the Lord. Because we understand the significance of Life Groups in blessing the lives of our people, our initial goal for participation is 80% on regular attenders.
When and where do Life Groups meet?
Life Groups meet in host homes during the week at times that are most convenient to those in the group. Most meet from 6:30-8:30pm but some meet earlier and some later. There are some groups that meet during the day as well. Make sure we know what your schedule will allow and we will help you find the perfect group for you.
How long do Life Groups last?
Our Life Group semesters typically run 9-11 weeks. We offer Fall, Winter, and Spring semesters and encourage groups to either continue to meet during the summer or just meet for socials during Summer breaks and holidays. At the end of a semester you are welcome to continue with the same group, check out a different group, or take a break for a semester.
What is the required commitment?
Joining a life group does require a commitment. Like with all relationships, it’s terribly difficult to build strong fellowship and genuine community when someone is not around. Weekly attendance and participation is expected for the duration of the semester with exceptions for emergencies, sickness, vacations, work conflicts, and special occasions. At the beginning of each semester, participants who are new to a Life Group may (and should) take up to three weeks to decide if they like the new group. Within that period of time, if someone would like to switch classes, they are welcome to. The key is to find a group where you will be most comfortable and most committed.
What will we study?
Each Life Group will make their own decisions concerning what they study. Some will choose to walk through books of the Bible independent of a prewritten curriculum while others will choose to work from solidly Biblical-based book studies. Some groups may even be more comfortable using DVD-based curriculum where the leaders only facilitate the material with discussion questions. Regardless of the choices made, Life Groups will focus on obedience and application of God’s Word and the Lakeview staff will be here to guide you all along the way.
What does it cost?
The primary cost of a Life Group is commitment. You have three weeks to decide if this is the group for you, but once committed, others are counting on you. You must be faithful for the entire semester or whatever the predetermined amount of time is for the benefit of everyone involved.
Life Groups that use DVD or book studies may be required to purchase their own books. Typically books are available for around $10-$20. Prices vary greatly depending on volume discounts and other factors. Finances should never be a barrier to ministry, so if you or someone you know cannot afford to purchase their books, please let us know at the church office. Limited scholarship funds are available.
What about childcare?
Each Life Group determines its own childcare options. Lakeview does not provide childcare for Life Groups. Please do not allow that to be a barrier for you. There are quite a few options for childcare. Remember that parents are responsible for having background checks done on each person that would be caring for children during their group. Contact the church office for more information on obtaining a background check.
Here are a few easy options for childcare:
- Ask a family member. Unless you’ve already abused the privilege, Grandparents are always looking for more time with newborns and infants. That passion often continues well into childhood. I know many a grandparent that would gladly watch their grandchildren knowing that mom and dad were becoming better parents themselves by studying God’s Word.
- Keep your children with you. This will certainly not be the most popular option. This is hard on the parents and other participants, but the early church did not have many childcare options either. The good side of this option is that your children grow up seeing you live out your faith in a sincere way. The group itself will learn patience as they support families with children. Older children and teens can actually be significant contributors to the group. You could also dismiss the children sometime within the study to allow the children to play in another room, do homework, watch Veggie Tales, etc. and allow the parents to take the conversation to a deeper level. Make sure children bring toys or other items that they will enjoy and would keep their attention during this time.
- Rotational Childcare. With this option participants with children to rotate in and out of the group. Sometimes even people who do not have children will volunteer to take a rotation as a way to minister to the families. The goal would be to organize the rotation so that no one person would serve more than once a month. It’s also a good idea to not allow a couple to serve together. Ask two husbands to serve one week and then their two wives another week. This keeps at least one family member in the group each week and allows those serving to get to know one another as well.
- Parents can hire a sitter collectively. Participants can pool their money and hire a sitter for all the kids in the group. Depending on the size of the house the childcare could be on location or even held next door if you have your neighbors in your group.
- Trade childcare services with other Life Groups. You are not the only group with children. Team up and trade childcare with a group that meets at a different time. Often the entire group won’t be needed so you can do a rotation that requires you to serve once a month and you would never have to miss your group.
- Have older teens watch the children in separate room. You may have an older child who may be quite capable of serving in this capacity. You could compensate the youth by contributing money to her mission trips this next summer.
- Employ a variety of options. Groups don’t have to do the same thing all the time. You could choose to split your time and your group. One week the men can watch the children and allow the women to bond over God’s Word while they bond in service. The next week you could switch roles. Once a month you could pay for collective childcare and meet together as couples. Be creative.
- Join different groups. Okay, this one may be a surprise. A husband and wife joins different groups for a season. Maybe they could join gender specific groups. The point is that one would be available to watch the kids for the other. The key here is to do this only as long as needed until your children are older and can participate in some different way.
How do I connect with a Life Group?
There are two very simple ways to connect to a Life Group.
Respond to an invitation to a group.
While groups are expected to remain small enough for intimacy, they are encouraged to invite others to join them. If you receive an invitation to check out a Life Group, just say yes. If you enjoy the group let your leader know. You can attend the group up to three weeks before having to make a commitment.
Complete Life Group request form online or contact the church office (843) 332-8427.
Your specific interests and schedule will be matched to a Life Group. We will notify the Life Group leader and he or she will invite the you to be their guest. Like before, enjoy the group for a few weeks and let us know what you think.