Back in the first century, when the Christian movement was still young, there were not any impressively large “church buildings” for brethren to meet at each Sunday. There were Temples, of course, scattered around the various cities of the old world, where pagans gathered to worship their many gods. Synagogue buildings could be found all around, as well, where Jews met to study the writings of Moses, David, the prophets, etc.
Christians, however, were a persecuted people early in their history. The idea to gather in one central location, inside a large building adorned with a steeple, clanging church bell and bright signage out front would not just be impractical it’d be foolhardy! They’d be asking for a raid from Roman authorities to come and arrest them all. And while our long-ago brethren were certainly ready to be persecuted for their faith, they weren’t silly enough to hang a sign on their backs that said “ARREST ME PLEASE.” They had a little more common sense than that.
When it came to gathering together for worship, brethren simply met in each other’s homes. The day never changed—the Lord’s church always met on the first day of the week—but the location certainly moved around, depending on whose house was available.
As the years went on the necessity of worshiping in each other’s homes diminished. Christianity eventually stopped being legally attacked by higher authorities and synagogue-like “neutral” locations started cropping up. Two-thousand years later, brethren almost exclusively meet in these so-called “church buildings.” But there’s nothing stopping us from, every now and then, returning to the old model.
Here at the North Heights church of Christ we’re bringing back the old way of gathering together with a modern flair. We call them LIFE Groups and they meet two Sunday nights each month from September-May.
Our congregation is large (around four-hundred worship with us each Sunday morning and our Adult Bible Classes are regularly packed with hardly a seat to be found) and the idea of putting us all in someone’s house at the same time is inconceivable. That’s why we have such a large and accommodating building here on the hill!
Nevertheless, we recognize the special feeling that comes from sitting on a couch (not a pew) under lamplight (not florescent bulbs) in the cozy environment of someone’s home. LIFE Groups offer us a change of pace where we can gather with a few of our spiritual family members in a small group, with Bibles open and hearts united.
These are not informal chit-chats either; they are well-prepared Bible study hours where we dig deeper—together—into the Word of God.
Each of our LIFE Groups contain three important components: First, a HOST volunteers to open their home to the Bible study, twice a month for nine months (September-May). Second, a LEADER guides the members together through the study, both moderating discussions and breaking down the subject matter. Finally, the GROUP gathers at the house with a mind set to study and grow in knowledge.
We take our LIFE Groups program very seriously. We don’t treat this simply as a chance to fellowship and laugh together. There’s a time and place for that (and we love doing that!) but the times we gather in our Groups is a time for us to dig into Scripture.
QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE…
Don’t these groups split up the worship?
On the contrary, LIFE Groups are an extension of our Bible Study program, not our worship. Just as we split up into multiple classes on Sunday morning and Wednesday nights, we split up likewise for LIFE Groups. The only difference is splitting up into various houses instead of various classrooms. This program is carried out under the close oversight of our elders, following the authority given to them by God to shepherd the flock and make sure they are spiritually fed.
What about my kids?
We run a great pair of programs here at the building for kids aged Pre-K through 6th grade. Parents drop their kids off before leaving for their LIFE Group and then pick them up when the Bible Study is ended. Kids preschool-second grade enjoy the Bible Explorers program, while third-sixth grade take part in the FBI (Faithful Bible Investigators) program. CLICK HERE to learn more about these works.
Who leads these groups?
Faithful Bible teachers guide the studies. Typically the men who lead include our shepherds, preachers, or deacons, and they devote a lot of study and preparation to their classes. Even when not teaching, our shepherds disperse among the various groups to ensure that the Word is taught and the studies are spiritually productive.
What if I’d rather just go to the building?
That’s fine! We have a LIFE Group that meets in our auditorium. They follow the same Bible Study curriculum as the others, begin and end at the same time as the others, and do everything else that the other Groups do; the only difference is they meet in the auditorium.
We absolutely love our LIFE Groups program and we think you will too. You can find more information on how to join a LIFE Group in either our auditorium or church office building. Get plugged in today!