Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! (Ps. 133:1 ESV)
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb. 10:23-25 ESV)
And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. (Acts 5:42-6:1 ESV)
The elders at SCC are so excited this month to talk about Connect Groups. For years we have been praying and reading scripture and deliberating over how to best organize and communicate our Christian Education, Discipleship and Pastoral care philosophies at SCC. Connect Groups are the SCC strategy to faithfully and enthusiastically address these most important topics. We believe that as we look forward at growth in 2017 and beyond, Connect Groups are going to be the best way to connect every member and visitor at SCC with a life-changing connection with Jesus Christ.
First – What are Connect Groups?
Connect Groups are any small group of SCC members that meets regularly for the purposes of Discipleship, Teaching, Fellowship and Care. What we previously called Sunday School classes are great examples of Connect Groups. So too are our Monday night Men’s Group, our Thursday morning Women’s Group, Wednesday night Bible Study group. These are already Connect groups. They can meet on campus, they can meet at someone’s house, they can meet at Starbucks. We are less interested in where than we are interested in the great work that God is going to do. Connect Groups are organized by either topic or demographic.
Connect groups are our primary method for providing teaching and discipleship at SCC. Sermons at SCC will always be written with the highest quality of in-depth Biblical teaching but we want our groups to take people even deeper.
Connect groups are also our main avenue of pastoral care. As we grow and continue to meet the needs of NW St. Johns County, our ability to shepherd is already growing beyond the capacity of the pastoral staff at SCC. Connect Groups will be our primary method of meeting the needs of the congregation. Your Connect Group will be the place we look to provide fellowship opportunities such as meal-delivery after someone has a baby, prayer and hospital visitation, and any spiritual need. Each Connect Group will have an elder assigned over it who will be directly praying with and for that group, as well as developing and discipling the Connect Group leader. If a member has a prayer or physical need that is beyond the ability of the Connect Group to meet, that concern will be raised to the elder board who will elevate that care need.
Connect groups are the primary focus of fellowship and connecting with the church. What we know about people is that they stay at churches when they connect with real humans who are also walking through this life. Life-changing connections with Jesus Christ happen when someone who is seeking is connected with a living, thriving body of believers. We want every connect group to be close like family and welcoming. We want no one ever to feel alone here at SCC. We want the connect groups to be where we can send new people to connect them with the body of Christ and the mission of the Gospel.
Second – What is changing?
At this point, not much. Our Sunday school classes and midweek groups are great and staffed by world-class leadership. Nothing is fundamentally changing about what is in place. What is happening though is that I am challenging the leaders, and each group, to dig deeper, think harder, strategize more on how an existing class can be tweaked to accomplish the goals above better. Each current group has been challenged to organize a bit on the care plan, how does each group address the needs within? When can needs be met by the group and what kinds of needs need to be elevated? I have also challenged your leaders to think through more actively how groups are welcoming new people. We want an aggressive, active strategy for including new people. A passive plan of “well, anyone is welcome” is not kingdom growth thinking.
Third – How can I get involved?
Listen, if you are not currently in a Connect Group, we love you but we also know that you are missing out on all the great opportunities in the Christian life. If you aren’t plugged in to a Connect Group, our ability to disciple you, care for you, love on you is severely diminished. We need everyone to join and commit to a Connect Group today. If you are uncertain how, contact me directly. Stop what you are doing right now and call or email me and we will get you plugged in. Maybe you are interested in leading one but you aren’t sure what it takes? Again, I say, don’t wait, do it today. We want to connect you with this body of Christ and all the great work God is doing here at SCC. The Christian life happens when we get out of rows on Sunday morning and we go through life together, sitting across from each other at a coffee shop, serving shoulder to shoulder out in the community, or sitting in a circle reading the Bible together. With every fiber in my being I want to strongly urge you to be and stay involved in a Connect Group. It is essential to the Christian walk.
If you have any questions, please contact me and I would love to chat.