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Changes to Community Groups

At the start of the 10:45 All Age Worship service on Sunday 11th March 2018, Val Fane made the following announcement with respect to our Community Groups.

We are planning some changes to our existing community groups.

The groups are a vital part of the life of our churches. Being part of a group supports each of us to grow deeper in our relationship with God as we seek to become whole-life, lifelong disciples. The groups are a place for prayer, bible study and for pastoral care and are an excellent place to deepen our relationships with each other, to care for one another and to share the highs and lows of our lives together. Groups also look for ways to reach out to family, friends, colleagues to share the good news of the gospel with them. We would very much encourage as many people as possible to link up to one of the groups, for prayer and pastoral support, even if you cannot attend every week.

After much prayer we believe that this is the right moment to make some changes to the current pattern of groups. One group leader is standing down, and we think the best option is to disperse that group. Some other groups have been together with minimal changes for a good many years. Some groups have a relatively narrow age range, which isn’t always healthy. We have some new group leaders, Helen Simpson and Chris & Ali Mesley, and we also want more of the groups to include people from both our churches.

I appreciate that the idea of change can be daunting, because people are often comfortable with the familiar. From my own past experience of ‘changing groups’ the prospect was not always what I thought I wanted, but once embedded was a positive experience with a chance to build new relationships and grow spiritually,  without losing strong existing relationships or friendships. Please don’t panic. Quite a number of people will stay with the same group leader, and the group leaders, myself and Dave are making the changes prayerfully. If there is good reason to leave you with your current leader, you will stay. Some of the groups are recently formed or have had significant recent changes to their membership, and we expect that changes to those groups will be smaller.

There will be no change to the daytime groups, because each has a separate identity. The young adults’ group will also stay, for those who want to stay with James and Sarah. For the evening groups there will be minor changes to some groups and a bigger change for others, depending on how long the current group has been together. That will enable us to establish the new groups and will hopefully be positive for the existing ones. We also plan to introduce those new to the church to community groups by running a ‘six week introductory group’ led by Nick and myself for newcomers based on the ‘Rhythms of Grace’ teaching that the church covered this time last year. From there, the leaders of that group can help newcomers move into the established group that is the best fit to their particular needs and preferences.

So, from next Sunday for four weeks until 8th April, there will be sheets out for everybody to ‘sign up, even if you are definitely staying with one of the daytime groups or the youth group. For those going to the evening groups, we will ask you to state the nights you are free to attend and the leaders will then prayerfully draw up group lists, keeping their current members where appropriate, moving people who they believe would benefit from a change and adding the extras from both churches. The final topic in our current sermon series is ‘Journeying Together’ which seems like an appropriate topic for the first meeting of the new groups – so we hope that 30th April will be the start date for the revised groups.

So, I really want to encourage everyone to sign up and get the benefits of being part of one of our community groups. If you are asked to change groups, I would encourage you to ‘give it a try’ If after a couple of months it really isn’t working for you, we will review the choice in discussion with you. Please feel free to talk to your current leaders or talk me or email me over the next four weeks. This is a big step, so please also pray for myself and the group leaders as we implement this plan.