We believe there are three important steps toward extraordinary living we were meant to take together.
Let's talk briefly about Community. One of the best places to experience Community in a church is with a group of 8 to 15 people over a period of time. At First Baptist there are numerous opportunities including Growth Groups, Celebrate Recovery, Men's or Women's Groups, Age Specific Groups, etc. Each group is special and unique. Some groups are content driven; others are more relational. Some are static and others seem to change with new people coming and going about every six months. Most have a few things in common however---people involved experience a sense of belonging--a place where one can grow in some way---a place where the experiences of life can be expressed and shared with people they respect and trust. If you have never experienced some of those commonalities now is the time to try it! We hope you enjoy this brief but candid interview with one of our Growth Group leaders Jim Hay.
Please tell us a little about your group. Well, currently there are about 23 people in our group. It seems to evolve over time with different people. Some have been in the group for over a decade. Most are retired people but the ages range from about 48 to 98; it’s pretty diverse. We discuss sermon notes from about mid September to June. We typically take a break during the summer but get together for potlucks once a month or so. It’s pretty rare to have everyone in attendance due to travel and other things.
What is a typical meeting like? It’s a really meaningful experience. I typically facilitate but Ted Neal and Ric Lundgren lead when Lynn and I are traveling. Leadership is shared. We meet at Clint and Kathy’s house starting around 6:45pm or 7pm. We usually end around 8:30pm. We typically have time for coffee, discuss the sermon notes and pray. We pray for people in our group, families, the church our country and very importantly, Israel.
What are some of the benefits in being part of a growth group? Getting involved with the people you care about has been a focal point. We really have some good discussions. None of us are Bible experts (except for Clint) but we go through the verses in the lesson. We try to get everyone talking. Bruce’s questions, notes and illustrations really gets us into the Word. One highlight is that we really get to know, care for and love the people in our group. We are special to each other through the ups and downs. Being part of a group helps you develop some good routines in your personal devotions. You learn a lot about leading; it’s fun!
Has your personal relationship with the Lord been strengthened because of your involvement in a Growth Group? If yes, how so and if not why not? Dramatically! It was a commitment that I made. I found out how much I really believed. Being part of a group really helped Lynn and I grow. He aimed us at this church. With such a diverse group there can be many points of view on topics and the meanings of verses. We respect and listen to each other and even if we do not agree on a subject we still get along with each other. The discussions really help you think about things. We do try to keep it light and fun.
What would you share with a person or a couple who has never been in a group or has been thinking about joining a group but never committed to taking that first step? You should try it! If you really want to be part of a something special and grow in your relationship with the Lord this would really help. There is a lot you can do in a group. Every group is different. Find the group that fits your place in life but be flexible. You don’t have to stay with a particular group long term. What’s important is meeting and getting to know other people in the body of Christ.
Glenn Compton - Director of Pastoral Care