Grace Church Home Groups: Our Purpose, Priority, and Approach
Home Group Purpose:
To provide a context for people to grow as disciples, where they can engage with God together, experience community, and encourage one another in our outward mission.
Home Group Priority:
Our mission as a church makes it clear that we are to be a gospel-centered community on the gospel-centered mission of making and growing disciples of Jesus Christ. As a church family, our starting point to accomplish this mission is our Sunday gathering. But the Sunday gathering is not sufficient in itself. At Grace Church we have several different pathways for growing as disciples. Among these, we consider Home Groups to be one of the most important contexts for growing as disciples. Why?
Along with the Word of God and the Holy Spirit’s work, growing as a disciple and making disciples requires real relationships. Christians need deep, meaningful, life-impacting relationships to grow because most change takes place in the context of our relationships with each other. Home Groups are a setting where Grace Church members can truly know, pray for, encourage and support one other. It is a context for us to ‘get connected’ to a smaller group in our church.
This is why Home Groups are such a high priority. An effective Home Group has the power to promote community and connectedness. An effective Home Group can foster real biblical fellowship, which involves participating in life with others to the point of knowing them, feeling their hurts, sharing their joys, and encouraging their hearts. It is also an excellent venue for growing closer to God, learning and applying the Bible together, and supporting, serving, and caring for one-another as we deal with life’s challenges. One Christian writer describes what happens when real fellowship occurs: “Fences come down. Masks come off. Welcome signs are hung outside the door. Keys to the doors of our lives are duplicated and distributed. Joys and sorrows are shared.”
Therefore, we encourage every member to be in a Home Group (or a similar group) that will encourage discipleship in the context of long-term relationships.
Home Group Approach: Three goals that help us accomplish our mission as we meet together
Engage with God: Our Home Groups are first and foremost places where together we engage with God in his word and by His Spirit. We read and discuss the Bible together with the purpose of seeing how God wants to conform us into the image of Jesus Christ. In this way we don’t merely discuss the sermon but we respond to God’s word seeing how it personally and practically applies to our lives. We also engage with God as we pray for one another.
Experience Community: Home Groups are built on authentic relationships (of course these take work!). They are a smaller context where we get to genuinely love one another and our guests. We discover ways that we can help each other life faithfully in this fallen world. We serve one another in hardships, carrying each other’s burdens. We also experience the joy of mutual relationships, in our life celebrations!
Encourage for Mission: Our Home Groups are a setting where we remind ourselves of the responsibility we have to go into our world with good news to make and grow disciples. We help and encourage one another to share our lives with neighbors, family, friends, co-workers and fellow students, so that they may know about Jesus, find forgiveness in Him and follow His teachings. Home Groups are also an excellent context for those outside our community to experience the love of Christ and the blessing of authentic and meaningful relationships.
 Chuck Swindoll, Dropping Your Guard