Because we're passionate about building a community
of disciples who are on mission together at Trinity Central.
Jesus called His disciples into friendship with Himself and each other. He formed them into a community and that's how He continues to work with us today.
Building a community requires a few things:
- Being known
- Feeling secure enough in our friendships to be vulnerable
- Creating contexts where we encourage one another to be obedient to Jesus' call on our lives
- Doing life together in such a way that our lives become joined
We can't achieve all this in a meeting: it requires living life together.
We can't achieve all this in a crowd: we need a small group of people in which to work them out.
We can't achieve this quickly: genuine friendships take time to build.
One key thing we've learned: community doesn't just happen. We either intentionally build into a community or we remain alone.
You won't find a perfect community in Trinity Central, but you will people at all different stages in their journey working out what it means to intentionally live in community together.
In Acts 2:42-47 we learn seven things from the early church in Jerusalem:
- they gave themselves to the apostles' teaching
- they prioritized prayer
- they were "devoted to the fellowship"
- they worshipped together both in their homes and in the temple - breaking bread together
- they ate together "with glad and generous hearts"
- out of this devotion to one another came the most remarkable generosity with regard to their possessions
- God added daily to their number those who were being saved.
This is our model for discipleship, and the way in which we do this is through our LifeGroups.
LifeGroups are 6-12 people, small enough that everyone in the group can be known. Once they grow beyond 12 we encourage them to ‘plant’ another group to keep things intimate. LifeGroups keep our church community ‘small’ even though we're growing.
TOGETHER ON A MISSION
Discipleship isn't just about our growth, it is about being joined in to Jesus' mission.
Jesus said that He would make His disciples 'fishers of men'. That implies two things:
- that He would change their passions and priorities, and
- that He would focus them on those who don't know Him.
We believe that, as a church, we are called together on a mission. 'Together' means community. "On a mission' means we exist for something beyond ourselves.
Though we care about our needs, we're primarily focused others' needs, not our own. We're passionate about working in team together to see our city experiencing the life-changing joy of Jesus' love.
The point of LifeGroups is to do life together. So a LifeGroup isn't just a weekly meeting.
LifeGroups are meant to cultivate genuine friendships - we grow together as we have fun, socialize and walk through difficulty and joy together. The weekly meeting is simply our community 'hub'.
That weekly meeting comprises a few elements:
- Eating a meal together.
Wherever you go in the world people grow together by eating together and sharing stories. How do we celebrate weddings, birthdays, and family gatherings? Most often with a meal. Eating together builds community.
Beyond that, the early church understood that eating together in the presence of God was itself worship. We eat together not only to build community but also to worship together. Eating together and sharing our stories each week lets us get to know each other in an authentic way. It's a key to building deep and meaningful friendships.
- Applying scripture together.
Jesus didn't say we would be blessed if we hear His Word, but if we do it! Knowing scripture is one thing, but applying it to our lives is more challenging. A LifeGroup's discussion is typically based on the previous Sunday's sermon. Our goal is to move beyond "bible study" to "bible application". We want to foster deep conversation marked by vulnerability and openness.
The preacher invests many hours in preparation: studying the passage, seeking to understand the context and meaning, and then revealing its relevance to us today. We take that investment and make it personal by applying the bible passage to our lives.
- Worship and prayer.
At the very heart of a Biblical community is relationship with God. Our relationship with God is personal but it is not private. We strengthen one another in faith and love for God as we worship and pray together. Often we'll pray for God to work in each other's lives - perhaps in healing, or for a new job.
Much of our prayer time will be devoted to praying for our friends and colleagues who don't know Jesus. We actively seek the Holy Spirit's gifts as we come to worship and pray, trusting Him to lead us and empower us as we care for each other and pray for God's breakthrough in our friends' lives.
As a community we organize things we like to do together and we invite our friends and colleagues to join us. Some typical activities include a hike, a picnic on the beach, a day of skiing, watching a movie or just taking a walk. We do life together and seek to include our non-believing friends.
We organize Alpha Courses, and pray for those we're inviting. We're a community on mission together: a community who deeply value the friendships we're building with one another, but who are also reaching out to others, seeking to include them that they might encounter Jesus.
How do I choose a group?
Have a chat with one of our welcome team, or one of the elders. They'd be happy to point you in the direction of a group with some space. As a rule, we find that natural connection trumps geography and even common interests. You might want to try out a few groups. If you try a group for a while but you're not connecting, you are free to move to a different group. We want everyone to find a group where they feel among friends. If you do decide to leave your current LifeGroup, we do ask that you "leave well" and discuss your decision with your LifeGroup leaders.
- Are LifeGroups organized geographically?
No. While we often refer to groups according to the location, we believe the best groups are where people connect relationally. Thus, our encouragement is to choose a group based on connection. We know that people will travel a long way to spend time with friends but will have difficulty going even a short way to a group to which they feel little connection.
- Can I change groups?
Yes. When people first come to Trinity Central we encourage them to try out a few groups to find a good fit. Circumstances may arise where you find that your current group no longer is a good "fit". You are free to find a different LifeGroup when a new term begins (September, January and April) but we encourage you to "leave well" and discuss your decision to leave with your LifeGroup leaders.
- Why do the groups meet in LifeGroup blocks or terms?
Life has seasons to it. In the same way, we want to create a cycle that breathes within church life, a cycle where leaders can have times of rest from the responsibility of leading their groups. We do this three times a year: around Easter time, in the summer, and over Christmas. But remember: the point of LifeGroups is to do life together, not to hold a weekly meeting! As friendships grow you'll likely be connecting together loads anyway during the breaks.
- Why have the LifeGroup discuss the sermon?
We believe that genuine growth happens when we apply scripture to our everyday lives. We don't want to just be "hearers" but “doers" of God’s Word. As we genuinely engage with the questions raised by the sermon, we will help each other to grow in love, faith and maturity.
We'd love you to join a LifeGroup
Few things in life that are of deep and lasting value cost us little. Community is the same. It costs commitment, and it costs time. But the rewards are truly worth it! If you'll invest your life in this community we know that you'll get more out of it than you can imagine, and certainly more than you put in.
In short, we believe that getting involved in a LifeGroup is one of the best things you can do with your valuable time.