On Becoming a Church of Groups

At Highline Christian Church we do not have a “small group” ministry as you might think of groups from past experience.  Instead, at Highline we are seeking to be a community of people in all different kinds of relationships for the purpose of helping each other grow to become more like Jesus.

As you pray about which groups to get involved in, here is some insight into why the culture of Highline is shifting from programs to people in groups and what that means.

At Highline, “our purpose as followers of Jesus is to love God and others in our everyday lives through discipleship and accountability.”  The leaders at Highline are passionate about seeing people fall in love with Jesus, it’s why we do what we do.  For years the Elders of HCC have been praying about how to help Highline become more of a culture of disciples connected in small groups rather than a Sunday consumer culture.  We thought starting a small groups ministry would help with that, however that effort failed after only 9 months.  We found most people are too busy to ADD another group meeting to what they are already doing.  We are a busy culture.  We live in a culture where being busy is actually praised, a culture where ignoring the fourth commandment receives honor instead of help and correction.  One thing we’ve come to understand is that if we really want to live lives of discipleship to Jesus and have vibrant community, we need to do some clearing of our schedules and create margin in our lives to be ready and able to partner with Holy Spirit in our formation to Christlikeness.  Adding more to be involved in is not what we are seeking.

Another lesson we learned that propelled us toward becoming a Church of Groups culture was the lesson of loneliness taught so well to us through our experience with the Covid Pandemic.  Covid was a horrible time in our lives, however it also taught many of us some important lessons, one of which is our need to be connected in community with other people. This is a huge lesson for all of us; we are created for community with the Body of Christ, with our brothers and sisters in order to be known, loved, and encouraged in our faith.

Imagine a church of groups where people are more connected with their group than they are the preaching pastor or other staff?  Imagine a church of groups where people connect in smaller communities to listen to one another, to love on one another, to help each other grow to become more like Jesus, and for it to be a place where people can be authentic and experience true love and grace right where they are as they seek to follow Jesus.  If we could become this kind of community, the kind of community described of the churches in the book Acts, then we believe our struggle with loneliness will begin to go away because we will have communities where we are known, loved, accepted, and held accountable to grow in Christlikeness.

Becoming a Church of Groups at Highline means every group, every ministry, from the nursery to the senior saints, from the elders to the quilting ladies will need to begin to relearn what it means to be a group.  We get to relearn why we gather and what we do when we gather.  This will be a challenge because without intentionality to change, we will revert to our old habits.  Those of us who are helping to bring this change about pray, think, and talk about this transition often and we still find ourselves reverting to old ways of meeting with others.  This is a huge change and it is going to take some time as we relearn the RELATIONAL nature of the culture we are creating.  We are transitioning from programs and positions to highly relational environments for life-transformation to Jesus’ way of living.  This is the easy yoke way Jesus taught His disciples how to live.  Jesus didn’t create programs or mega churches, He helped people get connected to others and begin to learn what it looks like to share life together. Jesus modeled what it looks like to listen to others well, think of the woman who was healed of her bleeding.  He modeled what it looked like to grow in smaller communities, think of all the times He went on to explain the parables to His disciples after the masses were dismissed.  Jesus modeled the life of serving one another and obeying His Father, think of how He served the masses food and washed the disciples feet.  Jesus modeled relationships. He modeled caring about and connecting with people.  His ministry is our model for highly relational communities of growth, life, and service.

We are embarking on a new reality for the culture of Highline and odds are it’s a very different groups culture than you’ve ever experienced before.  As we experience this change our hope and prayer for you is that you experience and extend a lot of grace; that you become curious about what Holy Spirit is accomplishing in, through, and around you; and that as you step out to meet someone new you would experience the love of Jesus as you extend His hand of fellowship to others. 

If you have questions about Highline becoming a church of groups, or if you would like help getting connected in a group, we would love to meet with you to answer your questions and to help you find communities where you can grow, live, and serve with others as we all seek to love God and others in our everyday lives.

Defining Some Terms

  • Church OF Groups – The body of HCC is made up of many different groups from the elders to the quilters, from the paid staff to sports teams.  Not one group is the same, though some groups are similar.  Every group however, seeks to create a culture for life-changing relationships through the environments of growth, life, and service.  
  • Group Life – The incorporation, overlap, of growth, life, and service into your environment.  This will look very different for EVERY group as they incorporate the three elements in appropriate ways for the type of group they are.  No cookie cutter groups; it is not the goal to have every group look, be, or act the same.
  • Growth Groups – Groups who spend the majority of their connecting in spiritual formation, or Bible/book studies. (Examples: Freedom in Christ, The Apprentice Journey, Thursday Women’s Bible Study, Sermon Discussion Group, Men by God)
  • Life Groups – Groups who help each other become more Christlike through ongoing relationships year after year.  Life groups have the best opportunity to incorporate all three elements of group life  (growth, life, service) into most of their meetings and have the potential for the deepest relationships.  (Examples: Ongoing groups meeting in homes, photographic memories, women’s quilting group)
  • Serve Groups – Groups who spend the majority of their connecting in serving in the church and or serving in the Kingdom of God.  (Elders, staff, greeters, communion servers, NextGen student volunteers, kitchen hospitality, missions)
  • Relational – Intent and purpose structured around relationships before tasks.  A person who is relational is one who orders their life around relationships.  A group that is relational prioritizes the relationships over other purposes for the group.
  • Discipleship – Learning to live my life as Jesus would  live my life if He were me.
  • Shepherd – One who is following the Good Shepherd to create environments for relationships for discipleship.

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