About Grow Groups
In a church the size of Sugarloaf, it is essential to relate to a
smaller group within the church. Everyone is expected to become part
of a group that is smaller than the crowd on Sunday morning to assist
in growing our faith together as a body. It is here that we will experience
the advantage of getting to know others in a more relational environment
and becoming more involved in the ministry of the church.
Our philosophy is to help take Every Adult Deeper in developing their
personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We see this as vital to a growing
Christian life. It is for this reason that we have developed Grow Groups.
Grow Groups are small groups of between 10-16 people and are crucial
to our continuing growth as Christians in community. This fall, we are
launching Grow Groups with a target number of 12 – if it was good enough
for Jesus, then we figure it’s good enough for us. Grow Groups will
primarily meet in homes, though there will be some that meet at the
church – particularly on Wednesday evening when we have Sugarloaf KIDS
and Student Life programming.
In the development process, the Grow Team has borrowed from several
different places – most significantly from Josh Hunt, North Coast Church,
and Northpoint Church. We chose not imitate any of them because Sugarloaf
Church is NOT them, but good ideas are good ideas and the following
is one that we wanted to make sure was available to you:
3 Vital Relationships*
We have identified three vital relationships that we believe each person
should focus on if he or she desires to grow spiritually: a person's
relationship with God, with other believers, and with unbelievers. Said
differently, we define spiritual maturity as the pursuit of intimacy
with God, community with insiders, and influence with outsiders.
Intimacy with God
The Bible records God's deep love and His passionate pursuit of all
humankind. And because He desires an intimate relationship with every
one of us, we believe the mark of a maturing follower is that he or
she is continually pursuing an intimate relationship with Him.
After all, intimacy in any relationship doesn't just happen. It requires
regular relational deposits. Imagine the state of a marriage where the
husband and wife did not put any time or attention into their relationship.
It might be characterized by a lot of things, but intimacy would not
be one of them. Our relationship with God is no different. An intimate
relationship with Him is not something we arrive at; it is something
we continually pursue. And as we do, we enjoy the benefits and demonstrate
the marks of a maturing follower.
Community with Insiders
Recognizing people's need for meaningful connections and the reality
that sustained life change takes place best in the context of intentional
relationships, we want people to be growing in community with other
believers. We believe that a person who is continuing to mature in his
faith is meaningfully and regularly connecting with other believers.
Since the human propensity is to drift, we need one another for mutual
encouragement and accountability. [Consider]… the words of Hebrew 10:
"Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,
but let us encourage one another." (vs. 24-25)
Maturing believers are people who are growing in community with other
believers, spending time together, encouraging one another, and supporting
Influence with Outsiders
Because God has invited us to partner with Him in the process of evangelism,
we want people to prioritize relationships with their unbelieving friends
for the purpose of seeing these friends come to faith. We encourage
people to invest in the lives of their unbelieving friends and then
invite them at the appropriate time to one of our relevant environments,
where these guests will be encouraged in their spiritual journeys.
Many of our most spiritually vibrant attendees started out as disconnected,
uninterested neighbors, coworkers, and friends. Then one day, a friend
or neighbor invited them to visit one of our ministry environments and
they experienced God in a fresh, relevant way. Nothing motivates believers
(or small groups) more than when they see God using them to bring someone
to Him. So we believe one of the marks of a maturing believer is the
pursuit of those outside the faith.
To us, a spiritually maturing person is not someone who has completed
a plan or curriculum. He is not someone who has simply acquired more
truth. A maturing believer is someone who is continuing to grow in these
three distinct relationships.
*Except for the first three paragraphs, this content was excerpted from
Community by Andy Stanley and Bill Willits © 2004 by North Point Ministries,
Used by permission of Multnomah Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.