The summer is a lot of fun for adults, families, students, and kids. But for LifeGroup Leaders, summer can sometimes be frustrating. When I was a new LifeGroup Leader, I thought I was prepared for summer. My wife and I led a discussion with our group at the beginning of May to see if they wanted to meet during the summer or take some time off. They had expressed genuine and unanimous interest in continuing to meet weekly through June, July, and August. However, that interest turned out to be unrealistic. Between birthday parties, vacations, or family visits, my wife and I would often be ready to lead the group, but no one showed up, having cancelled at last minute. The experience we had was not unique to us. It’s actually quite common.
So, then, how do we navigate the summer months as LifeGroup Leaders? Let me give you a few tips I’ve learned over the years of leading a group that might help you plan for the summer.View Blog Post
We live in a broken world, and so we all experience trials. Chances are a group member may face one of these trials during their time in your LifeGroup. LifeGroups provide a place to study, care, and serve. Care may be needed for members who experience tough times, like job loss, death of a family member, addiction, divorce, sickness, and more. It is helpful to recognize the level of care needed and understand the resources offered through Forest Hill.View Blog Post
As you have led your group at Forest Hill Church, you most likely have experienced a new person in your LifeGroup - someone either brought a friend with them into your group or you had someone join from LifeGroup Connect. As we are making disciples who Know, Grow, and Go, it is important to realize that a new person’s experience in a LifeGroup can be one of first steps towards growth in Christ and community. This blog will give you some tips and ideas for how to help new group members to feel welcomed.View Blog Post
In this two part blog series, we will be discussing the spiritual growth of your LifeGroup participants. Part one will give you a framework to assess the spiritual growth of individuals in the group. Part two will outline a simple way of encouraging growth in the group. Here is part one - assessing the spiritual growth of your groupView Blog Post
Communion is a time to celebrate all that Christ did for us on the cross. It is a time for us to remember our sinfulness and need for Christ and to give thanks for the forgiveness that we have in him. This time of remembrance and celebration does not have to be limited to the 4 walls of the church building though.View Blog Post
Why is it that your whole LifeGroup can go great and then you ask for someone to close the group in prayer and all you hear are crickets? Complete silence. Did you say something wrong? Did anyone hear you? Have you ever had this happen to you in group?View Blog Post
One area that can get overlooked in the spiritual life of a group is evangelism, or sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. LifeGroups can become a place where ‘everyone is fed’ or ‘everyone has the same strong foundation’. Although this may be God’s plan for a season of your LifeGroup, God typically uses our groups as a safe place for seekers to land and experience a Christian community for the first time.View Blog Post
The third step of 3-D or inductive bible study is to “do” the passage---this means that you apply the passage to your own life and your own world. Many people want to jump into this step right away. They open up their Bibles, read a passage and immediately wonder how to apply it to their own lives. This shows a heart for obeying God which is great, but without the foundation of discovering what the Word is saying and dissecting what it truly means, then doing what it is says can be dangerous!View Blog Post
Last week, we looked at the first “D” in the 3-D way of reading Scripture – Discover. The second step of 3-D Bible study is dissecting the passage, which moving from observing the passage to the interpreting it. In this step of the process, we look at all that we have observed from the words, the tenses of verbs (e.g. “is” or “was”), to the details of the story, and then we ask what is the meaning of this passage. When leading your LifeGroup through the 3-D Bible study, this would be the step that you could do some research prior to your group meeting.View Blog Post
Studying the Bible can feel overwhelming at times, especially when we sit down to prepare a Bible study for our LifeGroup. Certain questions can come to our minds such as, “Am I on the right track? Does this mean what I think it means? What if I don’t know the answer to a question?” These are all great questions to consider as we prepare to lead a Bible study in our LifeGroups.View Blog Post
Most children can share a story about that first time they stood on the edge of a diving board with heart pounding, looking down into the water below. They were excited but for a few nerve-racking moments of self-doubt, they wonder if it’s worth the risk. This scenario captures what a potential leader may experience when you first mention or suggest they lead a group.View Blog Post
Jesus handpicked 12 men to be His disciples and lead the way in the Great Commission saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, ESV). To prepare His disciples for ministry, Jesus intentionally developed them by investing in them, modeling for them, and giving them the opportunity to practice when He was still among them.View Blog Post
As a LifeGroup leader, you have many responsibilities, but you’re never asked to lead your group alone. God has called you and me into community with one another, and in that community, we are to seek fellowship, accountability, and growth, but also help.View Blog Post
“Communal Discovery.” This is a term sometimes used to describe the bible study portion of a LifeGroup where we, as a community, discover the meaning of a passage and how to apply it together. This term is useful because it emphasizes the benefit of our collective wisdom and the unique ways that Scripture speaks to each person.View Blog Post
As you know, LifeGroups are our primary discipleship environment at Forest Hill Church. We believe that growth happens best in community. We praise God for the thousands of people who have connected to LifeGroups at Forest Hill and for the ways He is working in their hearts and lives!
But how do we care for people who aren’t ready for a LifeGroup yet?View Blog Post
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 ESV)
It’s hard not to stand in awe of verse like that one above. To think that Jesus – the spoken Word of God (Jn 1:1-3), the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15-16), the Son of Man (Mk 10:45) – stepped out of the glory of heaven and into the muck of this world. The hands that spun galaxies into being came and washed the dirty, smelly feet of his friends (Jn 13). Eventually those same hands were pierced with nails, when he eventually paid the penalty for our sin and released us from its power by dying a horrific, gruesome death. He gave his life in service to us who had no hope.View Blog Post
Many areas of our lives can be compartmentalized. Our work life is separate from our home life. Our home life is separate from our church life. Too often, we find ourselves devoted to multiple ventures without a connection between them.
If we’re honest, this can happen in our LifeGroups. As we strive to study, care, pray, and serve, there’re times we can do these in silos. For instance, our prayers may not reflect the scriptures we recently studied. We might do studies about developing intimacy with our spouse, and then go out to feed the hungry. There doesn’t seem to be a connection.View Blog Post
“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for man.” Matthew 20:28 (NIV)
So often we get caught up in the hustle of this life that we miss why we are here on this earth. Our lives get filled with list of things to be done – our to-do list, grocery list, family activities, PTA meetings, conferences, and church. At times, even our LifeGroup can feel like another ‘thing’ we need to do. Serving the needs of the world seems to fall at the bottom of our list and is often something that we, as individuals and in our groups, never get to actually participate in.View Blog Post
“The holidays are coming! The holidays are coming!”
Yes, yes, they are. In fact, today is Halloween. And it’s just a sprint from here to Thanksgiving and then to Christmas. Around this time of year, it begins to get difficult for LifeGroups to maintain a sense of continuity. People are busy with family coming in or going out, so attendance drops. There are school programs and shows and holiday shopping, so group members’ ability to prepare for LifeGroup wanes. Without an awareness of the holidays and planning for them, the group can seem to limp to the end of the year.View Blog Post
I’m not an expert in groups or prayer at all. I’m a LifeGroup leader who has felt the frustration and difficulty around prayer. It has been that way in every group that I’ve been a part of and every group that I’ve led. Prayer seems to be that one thing that most people are uncomfortable with. So, as a LifeGroup leader, I have tried different things to help prayer become more comfortable and to get people involved. Over the past few weeks, I’ve shared some of those things.View Blog Post
Prayer is meant to be a natural part of a church community. It’s a place where we can plead our helplessness before God, where our faith can be built up as we see prayers answered, where we can be united by praying for each other, where God can be front-and-center in our groups as we focus on him.View Blog Post
Praying together is one of the best ways to grow in your faith as a LifeGroup. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to focus on giving you some ideas to “break the mold” of how prayer in groups is typically done and get all people participating. Here’s the first idea.View Blog Post
LifeGroups are an awesome place to learn and grow in Christ. Leading a LifeGroup with women of a variety of ages with all different spiritual backgrounds can be both rewarding and challenging. Our weekly LifeGroup meeting allows time to fellowship with each other and time to engage in deep discussion on spiritual topics. But how do we connect and apply these topics to our modern day life? Can we truly get to know God at a deeper level? How do we have the experiences that others talk about? Is it possible to discern His voice in this noisy world? How do we get close to Him?View Blog Post
One of the main components of LifeGroups is serving together as a group. This is different from how a lot of churches operate when it comes to growing in your faith, the making of disciples, aka discipleship. Why? Great question.View Blog Post
“The Sabbath is like receiving the gift of a snow day every week. Stores are closed. Roads are impassable. Suddenly you have the gift of a day to do whatever you want. You don’t have any obligations, pressures, or responsibilities. You have permission to play.”*
What happens when it snows in Charlotte? Life as we know it stops. We cancel meetings and don’t go anywhere (good thing we stocked up on milk and bread!). We delight in creation as we watch the flakes fall. We sled and hang out with our neighbors, and make special food like hot chocolate and chili. We watch a movie, read a book or even take a nap.View Blog Post
Getting outdoors for an hour or two refreshes my soul deeply. An early morning run or weekend hike have always been restorative and I’ve had a lot of flexibility to do these things up until our daughter Adeline was born three years ago.View Blog Post
There is something that cars, houses, and our health have in common. They all need to have regular attention and care. Likewise, leading a LifeGroup requires that we take good care of ourselves in order to be effective leading our group. Here are a few ways you can engage others to help provide the care you need to be the best LifeGroup Leader possible:View Blog Post
Forest Hill is a growing church, and it has grown by attracting people from diverse spiritual backgrounds. In a city of churches nestled in the Bible Belt, it never fails to surprise me how fragile some of these backgrounds are. In many ways Forest Hill is very much like a spiritual hospital. It provides general wellness services; it has coronary care units where seekers’ hearts are laid bare and first exposed to the Gospel; neonatal wards for baby Christians; rehabilitation wings for people from destructive or inadequate church backgrounds, etc. In this hospital the Physician is hard at work, and He’s always looking for staff.View Blog Post
Our men’s LifeGroup at the Ballantyne Campus has been together for nearly 8 years and has 16 men on the roster. A part of our mission at Forest Hill Church is to Go for Christ. We do this in LifeGroup by committing to actively volunteering for 4-6 serve projects a year.View Blog Post
On May 20th our South Park campus LifeGroups and congregation participated in Huntingtowne Farms Elementary School’s annual fundraising event – Fox Fest. It was a fun night and a great opportunity for South Park to collaborate with its local school partner.View Blog Post
So you are hosting a Formative LifeGroup. What happens now?
This blog is designed to help answer questions that you might have about formative groups and what is required of the hosts.View Blog Post
So you have decided to lead a new LifeGroup. Congratulations. What happens next? This blog is intended to give you a plan for getting started and to offer a number of helpful resources for each step of starting a LifeGroup.View Blog Post
So you’re thinking about starting a new LifeGroup. What does this require? And, how do you get started?
This blog is designed to help you think through the requirements of leading and provide you with helpful questions to ask about leading a LifeGroup.View Blog Post
We call them LifeGroups. Does that mean a group should last for life?View Blog Post
I remember sitting in the Atrium at the South Park campus and our LifeGroup leader saying, “Ok ladies, we are going to split and make 3 new groups out of this group. Jill will lead one and take a couple of you with her, Sara will lead one and take the rest of you with her, and I’ll start a brand new group.”
Wait…WHAT?! Why would we do that? Why would we end our group and the relationships we had formed to branch out and start something new, unknown, and scary?View Blog Post
I’m going to let you in on a little secret that will allow you to be a better, happier leader – your LifeGroup is not actually your LifeGroup.
I can pretty much guarantee you that someone in your LifeGroup doesn’t know this. If that is you, then what I’m about to tell you should be good news.View Blog Post
What does it look like for your LifeGroup to share Christ together? Most of the time when we think about evangelism, it is through the lens of doing it one on one with someone, which is good, but what about sharing as a group? We may think that means to show up at a public place and instead of a one on one conversation, we should have a four on one, six on one, or a ten on one conversation. That is not what it means so much to share Christ as a LifeGroup. Not very inviting either for that one person, is it?View Blog Post
Building relationships seems like the no-brainer part of the LifeGroup, doesn’t it? All of the other facets of LifeGroup need planning and strategy—like what you should study, where you should serve, and how you can get people in your group to pray more. But building relationships, that should just happen naturally, right?
Yes and no.View Blog Post
These two essentials of your LifeGroup can seem to be a hurdle in a group meeting. The primary goal in group life in the area of prayer and communion is participation. Getting everyone in a group to pray may take a year or it might not happen. The listing of prayer needs may actually overshadow praying together. Communion is something you might only have seen in a church sanctuary, yet it actually began in a house.View Blog Post
For life to grow and be sustained requires the existence of some essentials. These essentials include such things as water and air to breathe. To grow and sustain a LifeGroup, there are essentials as well. Over the next eight weeks we’ll explore what these essential practices are that keep a LifeGroup growing and thriving.View Blog Post
I love the story told years ago by the satirical Christian magazine, The Wittenberg Door, about the firefighter. There was a young man who had a desire to save lives. His desire led him to apply to Firefighting School. He was accepted and quickly began his training. He excelled in his training and graduated at the top of his class. Because of his exceptional skill he was asked to teach how to put out fires. He accepted and began to teach others. Among his colleagues he was a highly regarded teacher. Through the years he taught thousands of firemen how to put out fires. At the end of his career, he looked back at all the accolades he received, but realized he had never put out a real fire. He never actually saved anyone.View Blog Post
We had a great time with over 225 of our LifeGroup Leaders on January 6th at our All LifeGroup Leader Dinner. We kicked off this new year enjoying a meal together and sharing stories of the ways God is at work in our LifeGroups at Forest Hill Church.View Blog Post
The fear of being able to handle difficult questions in a LifeGroup is one of the top reasons that keep many from saying “Yes” to leading a group. While there are some leaders who love the challenge of answering difficult questions, most of us would rather not have to. As we move through January’s sermon series Unwrapped, we thought it would be good to talk about handling difficult questions in your LifeGroup.View Blog Post
The holiday season – wonderful as it is! – presents a number of unique issues for LifeGroups. How do we keep the momentum of the group going? Do we keep a study going, or do we keep it light and social until the New Year? Where do we serve? When should we have a Christmas party?
And of course, “What should we study in the New Year?”View Blog Post
The question that leaders most frequently ask their LifeGroup Directors is, “What should my group study next?” Today, we want to share with you a great new study called Pursuing Christ, created by Forest Hill Church. It’s a great study if you and your group are looking for a study that teaches how to grow deeper in your faith and become more like Christ.View Blog Post
Groups often take a break during the summer. This post is intended to give some tips to LifeGroup leaders who are preparing to restart their groups after a long summer break.View Blog Post
If you are like me, you may sometimes wonder why you chose to lead a LifeGroup. It doesn’t take me long to think of reasons why I shouldn’t lead my group. Many of them are good reasons.View Blog Post
Easy ways to energize your group meetings
If you sense that your LifeGroup meetings have become routine, it just may be time to shake things up. For me, creativity doesn't come easy, leading my group in song would be painful for all, and trying something new scares me to death. Therefore, shaking things up may seem improbable, but the good news is that it doesn't take dramatic ideas to shake up your group meetings. Here are a few things anyone can do to shake up the meeting and energize your LifeGroup.View Blog Post
Getting together with another LifeGroup may seem like just one more thing to do. It is hard enough to meet with the members of your own LifeGroup, why would you want to meet with another group as well?View Blog Post
When you see a blog titled, "Encouraging People to Get Together Outside of Group," that might seem like a great time to keep scrolling, right? Think about a typical day for each one of us. The US Department of Labor did a time use study for those ages 25-54 with kids, and here is what was most common on average: Working 8.7 hours, Sleeping 7.7 hours, Leisure and Sports 2.5 hours, Household Activities 1.1 hours, Eating 1.0 hours, Caring for Others 1.3 hours, and other type activities 1.7 hours. That is a pretty full 24 hours.
With such a full day, one would think it would be hard to be lonely! However, a wider community of close friends seems to be decreasing in our communities.View Blog Post
This week has been a hard one in the lives of Gentry and Hadley Eddings and their families. The tragic loss of their two sons, Dobbs and Reed - so young and innocent – is beyond hard. Please keep them in your prayers!
As the Eddings family is part of our community, the family of Forest Hill Church, it also has been a hard week in the lives of those who attend the church, who are connected to the church, who are in your LifeGroup.
Each of us handles grief in a different way, and so many emotions flood in – sadness, fear, anger, even numbness – that it can be overwhelming. And with every emotion comes a series of questions. For me, when I heard the news of Dobbs, I was in my living room. I heard crickets chirping outside and, on my computer, people were posting pictures of their vacations, concerts, a day on the lake. I was confused and asked myself, “Shouldn’t the world be stopping and mourning? How can people continue on as though nothing happened?” For some who are dealing with fear, they may ask, “What if it were my children?” Some people may be angry or confused and ask how a loving God could allow this to happen. Some people may be questioning why they aren’t as upset as everyone else seems to be. So many different reactions to one single event. Shouldn’t there be a one-size-fits-all for grief? Maybe there shoulView Blog Post
Many times, transparency within the group happens quickly and naturally. There are times however when groups need help opening up so that deeper connections can form. Deeper connections help people to know others in the group and to feel truly known.View Blog Post
There are any number of reasons why a leader might not feel like leading, but on the surface it seems to come down to either busyness or discouragement. Both are legitimate and are worth addressing. But there is an even deeper issue to consider as well.View Blog Post
Serving is a part of the fabric of all healthy LifeGroups. When a group goes deep with a local service partner, each group member enjoys a shared experience of starting relationships cross culturally. Times of study become richer as a group dives into God’s Word and sees scripture through the lens of those who are hurting. Conversations during your socials will tend to move past the Panthers or new coffee shop and move instead into the neighborhood. You will see how serving impacts your group’s community and discipleship (and vice versa).View Blog Post
“What should we study next?” This might be the most frequent question that we get from LifeGroup leaders. And rightfully so! As we lead our groups to Know Christ more, we need some guidance - some solid teaching, some great questions. That way, we can have great discussions that will lead us toward Christ and challenge us to live like Him.
But where do you begin to look for that perfect study to do next?View Blog Post
Attendance challenges are common and there are many variables that can cause a LifeGroup’s attendance to fizzle. Attendance fluctuations are completely normal, but as a leader it’s tempting to default to emotional reactions and take it personally. Is it me? Was it something I said? Do they not like our LifeGroup? In reality, the reasons could have nothing to do with you as a leader.View Blog Post
When we talk to LifeGroup Leaders, most groups want to serve together, but sometimes it can be hard to get started serving as a LifeGroup.
Here are do’s and don’ts to help groups “go” for the first time and experience the joy of serving together.View Blog Post
Everyone has something that they can talk about without thinking too hard. When you’re meeting new people, a fun game to play is to try and find their thing. I once had a lengthy conversation about Swedish Death Metal (an interesting musical sub-genre).
Maybe for you, it’s a particular sport that you play or follow. Or it could be a hobby or your work or your family. With just a little encouragement, we could probably get lost in conversation.
It’s easy to talk because you know what you’re talking about. Comfort and confidence give people freedom to respond to others without worrying about what to say.
Understanding this principle is the key to facilitating a group discussion.View Blog Post