July New Life Group Update

Welcome family to your July New Life Group update. This month I remind us "why" we are making changes.

Currently, Sonrise has three different groups to choose from: Sunday Schools, Bible Studies, and Life Groups.

If one of our new folks or visitors were to ask what the core difference is between these groups, a simple breakdown could go as follows.
  • The names of the groups are different.
  • The day and time they meet might be different.
  • The curriculum they use might be different.

If these same folks asked what is similar, we might say that they share in:
  • Quality curriculum
  • Quality instruction or facilitation

To summarize, at their core, our current groups are not that different from one another.
So, as we look at these five characteristics, which would you say "really" matters to these groups?

I would contend that the group's name is necessary only to the point that it helps describe what that group is. On the other hand, the day and time might be significant depending on a person's schedule throughout the week and ability to participate in a given group.
What about curriculum? Quality biblically based curriculum is critical across the board for all groups, as is quality instruction or facilitation.
Let's pause here for a moment and ask a question.
Why do we exist as people and the Church?
            Answer: To Love God and Love People (the two greatest commandments)
What has Jesus given us as a response to these commandments?
            Answer: Our Mission, which is the Great Commission.

The Commission (Matthew 28:19-20):
19 Go…make disciples…baptizing them…20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…

For our discussion, the keyword we are going to focus on is "observe." Now this word can be passive, "I observed the thief breaking into my neighbor's house." Meaning I watched them do it. However, the observation Jesus speaks of in the commission is more active. We are to be teaching disciples to keep or do all the things that Jesus has commanded. We are not just to learn the commands; we are to do them, live them, dare I say, love them.

This is where the new Vision of the church comes into play (Vision answers the question "how" we do the Mission). In February, I formerly introduced the church to Live, Love, Learn. In that message, we saw Jesus utilize these principles with His disciples in the feeding of the 5000. First, Jesus did life with His disciples; he had a relationship with them, not just for an hour or two a week, but day in and day out, there was an emphasis on community and connection. This then led to His ability to show His disciples what it was to love one another, but not just one another, but those around them, whether they were believers or not. Thereby fueling and solidifying the disciples learning of the commands that Jesus was teaching them.
This model, Jesus's model, is our desire at Sonrise. First, take the firm foundation of teaching that we have found in our current groups. Infuse them with live, love, and learn under the banner of a singular group name, Life Groups. Second, to be even more focused and more intentional in developing disciples who observe everything that Jesus has commanded, we increasingly strive to live out and love out what He has commanded, that is, what we have and are learning.

The goal would be to have every person who calls Sonrise home be part of a group powered by Live, Love, Learn. This starts with our AWANA (our children's ministry) Cubbies, who begin with the basic concepts of Live, Love, Learn as appropriate for their age. It continues through each age group (Sparks, T&T, Trek) through High School (Journey), where these teens are Living, Loving, and Learning in groups that are virtually indistinguishable from an adult group easing the transition from High School into adulthood.

What about curriculum? For the AWANA age groups, this is an easy answer; it's the AWANA curriculum. For adults, there will be more variety. What this will precisely be is in discussion within the team led by Pastor David. I can tell you that there will be at least nine weeks a year focused on pastoral messages. We will first see these this September as we enter into a six-week study on the six core elements of a church partner. I plan to preach on these six elements annually and have the groups study each year. The remaining three weeks will be during February when we remind ourselves of our Purpose, Mission, and Vision here at Sonrise. Pastor David's team is working on various options similar to those you have seen in the past for the remaining weeks of the year.

I pray that this brief update has helped you understand what is coming. Perhaps eased some concerns, and possibly brought some excitement as we strive to become more and better disciples for His glory by Living Together, Loving Together, and Learning Together.


Pastor Chris