What’s New With Groups?

You might have heard that we’re making some changes…

The Short Version

Starting September 2021, all of our Cell Groups and Bible Studies will be united under the banner of “Community Groups”, and we will encourage people to join at least one per season. Community Groups are gatherings of 6-12 people centered around life and learning together. Groups meet weekly throughout the Des Moines metro.

The Long Version

We’re all about community here at Saylorville. We often say, “Together is better.” That means we’re at our best when we’re living and learning in community with others who are trying to be more like Jesus.

Community isn’t confined to one place, one time, or even one event or program. Community happens whenever and wherever Christ-followers meet to live and learn together.

So, community can happen in a Thursday night Cell Group, where a group of married couples and their kids sit around a dining room table, sharing life, and talking about how to apply the message they all heard that previous weekend at Saylorville.

It can also happen every Tuesday morning, where a small group of women meet at their favorite coffeeshop and learn about how to study their Bible together.

It’s the Young Adult crew that you’ll find out on the back deck on Monday nights, taking the lessons from the Book of James and wrestling with how to live faithfully during their unique stage of life.

There’s no one-stop-shop for community. It happens all over the place, all through the week, with all kinds of people. You can’t squeeze it into a mold, force it to be what you want, or even contain it in one place.

Community happens when people of God live and learn together.

Mature disciples are men and women who are less lopsided and better balanced – they’re growing both relationally AND spiritually. Living AND learning together.

So, starting now, we’re shifting some of the ways we think about “community” here at Saylorville.

First – We’re going to double down on prioritizing a knowledge and love for God and His Word. We’re going to help provide communities that dig deep into the character and the Word of God. Alongside the Sunday morning preaching, our quarterly teaching modules, and the occasional Sunday night teaching environments, we’re committed to developing more consistent learning groups for our adults. These groups will focus on content and education – digging deeper into Bible study in the context of community.

So, here’s what this looks like: Up until now, we’ve encouraged people to get into some kind of Bible Study – two or three 6-8 week studies for men and the same thing for women each year. We’d like to strengthen those learning environments by making them longer and working hard to find gifted teachers. These learning groups will also follow the same seasonal schedule as our other Community Groups, making it easy to keep track of when they are starting and ending.

Along with reshaping our Bible Studies into learning-focused Community Groups, we’re also putting together a scope and sequence for what we hope will become a set of “Core Classes” – classes available for everybody at Saylorville – in personal and practical theology that will meet throughout the week, have set curriculum, homework, and benchmarks. We’re super excited about the potential of these “Core Classes” as part of our goal to prioritize more opportunities for people to access solid, theological teaching at Saylorville. More on this as we continue to develop the idea in the months to come.

Next – We’re going to broaden our scope of community options. Up until now, we’ve highlighted Cell Groups as the primary place to find deeper connections. While that’s been true, we’ve seen God use other small group environments to develop deep relationships too. For instance, our Men’s and Women’s Bible Studies have both provided community for those who might not have been able to be in a Cell Group because of their work schedule, stage of life, or family season. We want to encourage these kinds of learning communities – as well as those that focus more on sharing life together.

So, here’s what this looks like: We’ve consistently said that it’s an expectation for every member, and everybody looking for community here at Saylorville, to be part of a Cell Group. And many of in our congregation are. Almost 75% of those who are here on Sunday mornings are also part of a Cell Group – which is really amazing. But what about those who aren’t? What we’ve found is that many of you are experiencing biblical community in environments outside of Cell Groups – places like our Men’s and Women’s Bible Studies. And that’s fantastic. We want to encourage those kinds of relationships by broadening our definition of “community” beyond Cell Groups to include some of these other groups that are also offering life and learning in small gatherings.

Finally – We’re going to work harder to encourage and promote opportunities for Believers to use their gifts. Some of our leaders are amazing at hospitality – making everybody feel like family when they walk through the front door. A lot of hospitality folks are Cell Group leaders, and that’s awesome. But some of our members have the gift of teaching, and might not using it because they aren’t sure where they can.

So, here’s what this looks like: Up until now, we’ve only had a handful of environments in which those with the gift of teaching, preaching, or leading can really plug in consistently. This new model of Community Groups will open up more opportunities for gifted teachers to serve consistently. God has given our church every gift that He wants us to have in order to do what He wants us to do. And unless we unleash the church to use our God-given gifts to the fullest, we’ll be falling short of His best for us all.

So, here’s what we’re trying to do:

This new Community Group model will emphasize balanced discipleship (people who love God and love people) by broadening our definition of community to include both life and learning groups. The new model unifies Young Adult groups, Men’s Bible Studies, Women’s Bible Studies, and Cell Groups into one combined category called “Community Groups”.

All of our Cell Groups and Bible Studies are now simply “Community Groups”

Each of these groups will focus on either life – prioritizing connections and application; or learning – prioritizing content and education

A few examples of what this might look like:

A Young Adult Community Group might focus on learning for a season by digging deep into a Book of the Bible, or maybe the group leaders feel more led to focus on getting people connected to Christ and to each other – more of a life-on-life focus for a season.

A Community Group of mostly married people might gather on Tuesday evenings to eat dinner, apply the Sunday morning message, and pray separately as men and women – focusing a little more on Biblical relationships rather than Biblical education.

Or the Men’s or Women’s Community Group meeting early in the morning, or after the kids go to bed at night – might choose to dig deeper into the Sunday morning sermon series using the resources provided by our Discipleship Team.

Each Community Group, through their leaders, is free to decide whether they will use this season to focus on life, or focus on learning, because both are an important part of making less lopsided and better balanced disciples.

What’s really changing?

We’ve always expected people to be in community at Saylorville, but we’ve essentially narrowed that community down to Cell Groups. Now, instead of seeing Cell Groups as essential and Bible Studies as extra credit, we’re recognizing that both play an important role in balanced discipleship. So this Fall, we’re combining Cell Groups and Bible Studies under the banner of “Community Groups” and committing to shepherd our Saylorville family to find their people in at least one of these groups.

Each of these groups will use the same basic seasonal schedule, with intentional time for rest and reset between seasons:

Fall Season: Labor Day until Christmas (approx. 14 weeks)

Break: Christmas until Super Bowl Sunday

Spring Season: Super Bowl Sunday until Memorial Day (approx. 14 weeks)

Break: Memorial Day until July 4th

Optional Summer Season: July 4th until Mid August (approx. 6 weeks)

Especially for those who are newer to Saylorville

Break: Mid August until Labor Day

People will still join Community Groups through Group Connect and the familiar ChurchCenter app or website like we’ve already been doing for a few years now.

Like always, our Ministry Leaders will work hard to shepherd people to find a Community Group where they can practice life and learning in a Biblical way.

What do Group Leaders need to know?

Leaders can now choose what type of group they want to lead – based on your gifts, your stage of life, and your schedule: Young Adults, Men’s, Women’s, or Mostly Married

Then, choose a focus for your group this season – life or learning.

Then, choose your content…

Are you going to lean into learning – studying a specific book of the Bible or digging deeper into the Sunday morning sermons using personal Bible Study Journals? Our team will provide several resources for those of you who are leaning this direction.

Or, maybe you feel like your group needs to focus on building relational connections – maybe eating a meal together, going over Sermon Questions, or serving together as part of life-on-life discipleship. Again, we’ll help you figure that out if you need.

If you’re a Young Adult leading a YA group, great! Keep it up.

If you’re a Cell Group Leader along with your spouse, and you want to keep doing that together, great! Keep it up. The biggest change is that your group is now a Community Group, not a Cell Group.

Or maybe you’d like to try leading a Men’s only group, or a Women’s only group for a few seasons. That’s great!

For those who have leading a Men’s or Women’s Bible Study, we’d love for you to keep doing that under the unified banner of Community Groups, and even digging deeper into the Bible and into relationships with the new, longer seasons.

The new group schedule will also give leaders a chance to rest and refresh at important times throughout the year, as well as natural times for groups to multiply and grow.

What do people joining groups need to know?

Community happens when the people of God live and learn together. So, we’re going to work hard to help you find your people here at Saylorville.

All of our groups will continue to be listed on our ChurchCenter page and through the app.

On our Community Groups web page, you’ll choose a type of group (YA, Men, Women, Married).

Then you’ll use filters to choose the options that look like the best fit and contact the leaders right there through the website.

If it seems overwhelming to try to pick a group – let us know. We’ll help you find your people.

If you’re brand new to groups at Saylorville, we’d still love for you to attend Group Connect before each season begins (fall, spring, summer)

Summary:

Emphasize balanced discipleship (people who love God and love people) by broadening our definition of community to both life and learning groups. Putting Young Adult groups, Men’s Bible Studies, Women’s Bible Studies, and Cell Groups into one combined category called “Community Groups”.

Each of these groups will focus on either life – prioritizing connections and application; or learning – prioritizing content and education

So, let’s find our people…and experience life and learning together.

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