Life groups have always played a vital role in the health of our church family. They are intentional communities meant to deepen our relationships with each other and God as we live out discipleship together. One of the things the pandemic reminded us of was just how much we needed that community. How much we needed to sit across the table from each other. To eat a meal together. To walk through joys and struggles together.
For the entire month of August, we are on a mission called Drive to Thrive which is designed to connect those seeking community with existing life groups, create new life groups, and assess and strengthen our existing life groups.
Drive: an innate (essential), biologically determined desire to attain a goal or satisfy a need. (Desire, instinct, need, want).
Psalm 42:1, “A deer longs for streams of water.
God, I long for you in the same way.” (NIrV)
The psalmist in Psalm 42 expresses that they have an innate desire for the Lord. This drive causes them to seek the Lord out. Having a drive or desire is very important in all aspects of life. Not simply having drive is essential, but having a destination to direct your drive is most important. Consequently, the psalmist shows us that our desire or drive should be directed toward God.
People must have some sort of desire or drive to want to do something. Whether it is good or bad, humans have a drive-centered reality. We are driven to someone or something for multiple reasons. The Spirit that God has placed in each of us has a pneumatological predisposition to seek after the source from which we originate. This drive will ultimately bring us under Christ’s lordship, if we do not allow the desires of our flesh to drown out or overcome the drive of the Spirit.
John 17:24, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am. I want them to see my glory, the glory you have given me. You gave it to me because you loved me before the world was created.” (NIrV)
Jesus exhibits a drive for us to be where he is. This innate desire to have a relationship with humans goes back to the garden, when God sought out Adam and Eve after they had sinned. God also called Abram out of the land of his fathers and sought to court him to build their relationship. In the Exodus, God led the Children of Israel out of the bondage of Egypt. God has continuously maintained a drive and desire for us.
Thrive: to grow or develop well or vigorously. (Prosper, flourish). If someone or something thrives, they do well and are successful, healthy, or strong.
Psalms 1:1-3, “1. Blessed is the one who obeys the law of the Lord.
He doesn’t follow the advice of evil people.
He doesn’t make a habit of doing what sinners do.
He doesn’t join those who make fun of the Lord and his law.
Instead, he takes delight in the law of the Lord.
He thinks about his law day and night.
He is like a tree that is planted near a stream of water.
It always bears its fruit at the right time.
Its leaves don’t dry up.
Everything godly people do turns out well.” (NIrV)
God has a desire for us to Thrive in his love and community. The redemptive narrative exhibits many examples of God’s persevering love. God’s desire and longing to be in relationship with Israel shows all of his creation the drive he has to be a God of relationship. God has the ability and desire for us to Thrive in the midst of the troubles of this world. This does not mean we will never see or face troublesome or difficult situations, but it means that through these situations we will not fall away, but will be able to draw strength to cling closer to him.
Jeremiah 29:11-14, “I know the plans I have for you,” announces the Lord. “I want you to enjoy success. I do not plan to harm you. I will give you hope for the years to come. Then you will call out to me. You will come and pray to me. And I will listen to you. When you look for me with all your heart, you will find me.
“I will be found by you,” announces the Lord. “And I will bring you back from where you were taken as prisoners. I will gather you from all of the nations. I will gather you from the places where I have forced you to go,” announces the Lord. “I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you away.” (NIrV)
Even after a time of chastisement God has exhibited a heart desire for bringing his community back to a place where they can thrive, and he promises hope and a future of communal relationship. He promises to be found by them when they seek him with their whole hearts. See the drive he requests and the posture of thriving he promises. Christ came to us with the desire to give life to the fullest it could be (John 10:10). This life-giving desire was for Christ’s followers that God had given to him to develop and have a Drive to Thrive in God’s blessings through his community.
(1) a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
(2) a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
(3) a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as norms, religion, values, customs, or identity. Communities may share a sense of place situated in a given geographical area (e.g. a country, village, town, or neighborhood) or in virtual space through communication platforms.
(4) a group of people with diverse characteristics who are linked by social ties, share common perspectives, and engage in joint action in geographical locations or settings.
In the beginning, God said, “Let us make man in our own image.” As God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in community, they formed humans in community. God once discussed with himself saying, “it is not good for man to be alone.” God created Eve because Adam had no equal, as others in creation did. God created community in the garden with the first two humans. He wishes for us to continue in community today.
At Otter Creek we are a community seeking to be more like Jesus. Our Life Groups are too, but they are more than just a replacement for Sunday afternoon Bible study or worship service. Rather, a Life Group encounters Life as Worship.
- Life Groups are our intimate spiritual connection to the larger body.
- Life Groups are small, intentional communities in which we live out our discipleship together.
- Life Groups share life with each other in diverse ways:
o Life Groups commune to celebrate achievements, individual or group.
o Life Groups commune to lament and mourn with one another in the event of loss.
o Life Groups commune to praise a merciful and gracious God who gives life.
o Life Groups commune to face our difficult life issues together
o Life Groups commune together because we love doing life with each other.
Life Groups are communities in which we find accountability, support, understanding, and most importantly, Jesus the Christ.
Life groups are not just bound to the mold of meeting to sing songs, Bible study, and cultic worship rituals. Life groups are fluid manifestations of living out our discipleship in Christ together. If you decide to do a Bible study and regular worship-themed gathering, that is great. If you decide to share a meal and share your weekly adventures with life, aspirations, and pray, that is great! If you decide you need to confess, your Life Group should be the ideal place to find accountability and encouragement. If you are going through a rough patch of life, your Life group is your support. Why? They are in the boat with you and they are going through storms as well. Life Groups do life together, not just some days. If you decide you want to meet up for Jimmy’s baseball or basketball game and support him, that’s community. Life Groups have raised children together, sent kids to college together, served together, helped each other prepare for weddings, life milestones, and funeralize loved ones. One word to sum up the ideal of life is Togetherness.
Every Sunday throughout August we'll have tables set up at both campuses where you will be able to sign up and let us know you are looking to be connected. I'll also be sending out a weekly blog designed to encourage, inform, and provide advice gained from other successful Life Groups here at the Creek. We will be intentionally seeking to connect existing open Life Groups to people seeking community. This will also be a time for existing Life Groups to evaluate, reflect, and assess their Drive to Thrive. We will also create new Life Group communities.
- If you are not currently part of a Life Group, sign up here today!
- If you are currently in an Active Closed Life Group, and feel that you need assistance/support to help with any renewal activities, please contact JB.
- If you are currently in an active Open Life Group, adding members or want assistance to help with planning ways to enrich, renew, or reframe your group, please contact JB.
Please reach out to me with any questions!