A Life Group is a home fellowship made up of approximately 12-14 people who meet weekly to share, study God’s Word, and support one another. A trained facilitator (individual or couple) and host (individual or couple), commissioned by the church, lead each group. An average meeting lasts for about 90 minutes, followed by (or starting with) light refreshments.
Why Life Groups?
Here at Gateway, we envision Life Groups to be the hub of our ministry. They're the place where the real ministry of the church takes place as we study God's Word, while supporting and sharing our lives with one another. We believe that meeting together on a regular basis is time well spent. There are two essential things we want each and every member of our church to be ‘velcroed’ to:
1. The Word of God, and
2. Fellow Christians.
When and Where Do They Meet?
Life Groups meet on various nights of the week in homes throughout Abbotsford and the Fraser Valley. Most evening groups meet between 6 and 9 pm. The daytime group meeting times vary.
How Long Do They Last?
Each Life Group session lasts 9 weeks. We have Fall & Spring sessions. At the end of each session, you will have the choice of staying in the same group, trying a new group, or even taking a break. Most groups tend to stay together throughout the entire year. Life Groups do not meet mid-June through August. During the summer months, the church offers various "affinity groups" (i.e. missions, hiking, biking).
What is the Required Commitment?
Joining a Life Group requires a 9 week commitment to attend weekly meetings and do the homework ahead of time. Obviously, allowances are made for sickness, vacation, work conflicts and other special events, but not much more. This commitment is the key to a strong Life Group. You have the first three weeks to attend the group to make sure it's a good fit for you.
What Will We Study?
Most of the studies are based on the previous weekend's message. These "sermon-based" Life Groups are built on what we call a "Lecture-Lab" model. Imagine the weekend message as a lecture on Christian living, and the Life Group as a lab where you get to roll up your sleeves and discuss how the weekend's message works in real life. Each week there will be a series of Bible passages and questions on the back of the sermon note sheet to study before the meeting. It will usually take 20 to 30 minutes per week to complete the homework.
What Does It Cost?
Few things in life are free and Life Groups are no exception! The cost of Life Groups is the cost of commitment. During the first meeting, each group will complete a "covenant" together. This simple form helps each group discuss their priorities and commitment. Part of that commitment is the promise to attend each week and to complete the homework as well as to attend the ‘social’ and ‘serve’ project.
When you join a Life Group, you're promising to attend and be prepared each week. It's this commitment that makes Life Groups work (We realize it's a big commitment, but it only lasts for 9 weeks). At the end of each semester, you have the choice of recommitting to the same group, trying a new group, or taking a break from Life Groups altogether.
What About Child Care?
Life Groups are for adults only. (Exceptions can be made for nursing newborns, up to six months.) We leave it up to each family to work out their own child care.
To offset the financial commitment of childcare, you may consider one of these options:
1. Share a sitter with another member of your group.
2. Ask a family member (grandparents!) to watch your children.
3. Find a family that meets on a different night and watch each other's' children (free!).
4. You can apply for a subsidy from the church to offset the cost.
5. We care so much about you being in (or at least trying out) a Life Group that if finances are the only obstacle that stands in your way, we encourage you to take the cost of childcare out of your tithe.
How Do I Choose a Group?
When selecting a group, we strongly recommend you choose a group based on its leader-host team and station-in-life, rather than its location. We think that groups do best when members share a common station-in-life and other interests with their facilitators, hosts, and other group members. In the end, you'll find it's worth the drive!
If you have any questions (especially if you are new to Gateway), please don't hesitate to call the church, and we will gladly assist you. Keep in mind that it might take two or three groups before you find the perfect fit, but don't worry, you'll find it!
How Do I Sign Up For A Life Group?
There are three ways to sign up for a group:
1. Using our Connection Card in our bulletin and placing it in our offering at our AM services
2. Signing up at our Info Booth (managed by our Life Group Coordinators) immediately after our AM services
3. Signing up online at: www.gatewaycrc.org/lifegroups.
Booklets are available at the booth with general information about each Life Group available. There are two sign-up/promotion months: Before the beginning of our Fall semester in September, and Spring semester in January. You can call the office at any time who can assist you in finding and signing up for a group, or answer any questions.
Are There Life Groups for Teenagers?
Gateway offers small groups for students. Although these groups are not called Life Groups, they function similarly and are very important to our church. For more information about our High School groups, please contact Pastor Marcel.