Tag: lifegroup

Why I Joined Community: An Interview with Andre Chapa

Lifegroup is at the core of who we are as a church. It is a place where we see authentic community come together to live out the purposes God has for our lives. Andre Chapa is a part of the Antioch staff, and we recently sat down with him to hear a little more about how community has impacted him and his family:

How did you get connected to Antioch?

A couple of years ago I felt like God was leading me to more. There came a point in my life where my routine changed, and I had times to just sit still. It was the first time that I was just still in 10 years, and I kept hearing God speak “family.” Even though we were involved in our church, our home life wasn’t consistent and I wasn’t spending enough time with my family. It wasn’t that our home was a wreck, it just wasn’t in order. I felt like God was leading us to more. I had a routine but there was no fruit in the routine. Through hearing about other peoples’ experiences, we decided to check out Antioch.

How has community changed you and your family?

When we started going to Antioch, I began meeting with Vincent Carpenter every week. It was the first time in my 10 years of following Jesus that someone sat down and really just talked with me. When he started letting me in his life, I felt a shift. Hearing someone else and hearing his story was huge for me.

We started visiting Lifegroups and we’ve been in the same Lifegroup for a little over a year now. As far as what Lifegroup means to me, it has been a place where I can be myself. I really never knew who I was and never knew my identity in Christ. I was living like I thought God wanted, but I wasn’t allowing Him to live through me. Being around people who are living out what God has called them to and having people who are willing to let me into their lives has made all the difference for me.

In discipleship the other day we were reading in Corinthians, and Paul says, “By the grace of God, I am who I am.” Hearing that, even again, gives me freedom to be who God made me to be. I have learned that I can be me, and through my passions God is glorified. I didn’t know any of that because I didn’t have fellowship or community to walk with through life.

Community has given us structure and the ability to come together as a family and help each other. My kids are connected to other kids their age. We are all coming together and there is unity in our family. My kids are enjoying their Lifegroups and they have a desire to know God more.

Why should someone get plugged into community?

Lifegroup gives you a setting where you are able to be transparent, and you are able to walk out the Scriptures you’re reading. You are able to be vulnerable and there are people who want to help you walk through whatever you are facing. If you are hungry and you want change, Lifegroup is where it is going to happen. We have all the information and Lifegroup is where we apply it. Lifegroup brings you into a reality where you can live out what God has for you.

The Value of Lifegroup

Are you looking to connect at Antioch? We wholeheartedly believe the best way to connect to the church and ultimately the best way to grow in your faith is through a discipleship community, which we call Lifegroups.

Twice a year we host an event called Connect in order to help you find a Lifegroup. We plan to have more than 100 Lifegroups represented at the event which allows you to meet multiple different leaders in order to find a group that fits your unique needs and season of life. While we are always happy to help you find a group, this event is by the far the best opportunity to discover the right Lifegroup. Childcare is free, but please register in advance. A light dinner will be provided. The event is Thursday, September 22nd at 6:30pm. See you there!

To learn more about how community can transform your life, check out this video:

 

A Simple Invitation

I walked into Antioch exactly 15 years ago. As I stepped through the doors I appeared to have my act together, but under the surface I was a mess. Hidden sin plagued my life; I rarely spent time with God and never shared my faith. My spiritual life was in disarray. And I didn’t even know it.

God intervened in the form of a simple invitation to Lifegroup.

I’m still not sure why I committed. For the next few months I weaseled my way out of accountability and only partially engaged with the group. But for some reason I kept showing up and before long, things began to change.

Lifegroup changed my life. It was never one specific meeting, but somewhere along the way I woke up and realized my life has been forever transformed through a decade and a half of intentional community.

I’VE FOUND IT’S THE SIMPLE THINGS THAT CHANGE THE WORLD; IT’S THE POWER OF THE MUNDANE.

The simplicity of accountability, encouragement and Godly friendship empowers us to grow in Christ and live out our calling. This is why Hebrews 10:24-25 states, 

“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Community isn’t always flashy.

At times, my Lifegroup feels like crowd control with more than 15 young kids; sometimes I’d rather just take a nap. I’ve experienced disappointment as past groups fell apart, or when close friends moved away. But still, when I reflect on my life, it’s been the consistency of “meeting together” that transformed me.  I would not be the man I am today without it.

As a result, I am deeply motivated to provide the same experience for others. Every Sunday dozens of people walk through the doors of our church and I can’t help but wonder whether they will get the same invitation that was given to me.

This is where you come in.

We need more Lifegroups to care for and disciple the hundreds of new people God is sending us. You don’t need a seminary degree, just a passion to serve people and create an environment for discipleship to occur.

IN RESPONSE:

If you are interested, we are hosting a rally this Sunday, August 14th, at 6:30 p.m. at the church for any current or prospective Lifegroup leaders. We hope to see you there!

By Drew Steadman

Antioch staff member Drew Steadman

Get Connected

Jonathan and Amy, who led an Antioch Lifegroup and served as trainers for Lifegroup leaders, felt God was calling them to plant a church in the United States. They eventually developed a team and planted a church that is currently thriving and reaching many college students in a Chicago suburb. Almost the entire original church planting team was made up of people from the section of Lifegroups Jonathan and Amy trained and led.

Brenda said her Liferoup has walked her through some of the most difficult times in her life. Brenda said the members of her Lifegroup are just as much her family as her biological relatives.

Donna said Jay has always been a faithful husband and provider, but since joining Lifegroup he has also become a stronger spiritual leader in their home. Donna testified how blessed she felt when Jay surprised her at a Lifegroup meeting by challenging all the couples to begin praying together and how Jay took on and followed through on the challenge himself. Jay said meeting with the other men and being accountable to them was a major factor in his spiritual growth. Donna said since joining Lifegroup she has committed to pray more and that has made the biggest difference in her life.

Matt first saw Abbey at Lifegroup. Abbey shared a struggle she was having, and Matt remembers thinking that someone from the Lifegroup should come alongside Abbey and be a support to her. Matt said he felt the Lord challenged him to help his fellow Lifegroup member sometimes, and he now helps Abbey full-time as her husband.

All these meaningful relationships have one thing in common – Lifegroup.

Lifegroup is a place where people can experience community and discipleship in a life-changing way. You might not develop a significant relationship with every person you meet at Lifegroup, but every person you meet in Lifegroup has the potential to impact your relationship with God through opportunities for fellowship, service and discipleship.

This is why we want every person in our church to join a Lifegroup. Everyone not in a Lifegroup is invited to Connect, next Thursday, February 4th at 6 p.m. in the Auditorium. At Connect, you will have the opportunity to meet our Lifegroup leaders, get information about numerous Lifegroups and even select one to attend. A light dinner will be served and childcare will also be provided kids, birth through sixth grade. We have an easy registration form to fill out if you plan on attending. All kinds of relationships will be started at Connect, and we hope to see you there!

 

By Vincent Carpenter, Teaching and Administrative Pastor

The Power of Community

Married couples often meet privately with a counselor when working through relationship struggles or just trying to make a good marriage better. However, church survey information suggests another effective option. Antioch conducts a church-wide survey every two years to determine if the members of the congregation understand and live out the values of the church.

The 2014 survey clearly showed that people who attend Lifegroup far more effectively live out the church’s values than people who do not participate in Lifegroup.

Another interesting fact from the survey was that people who attend Lifegroup reported a significantly higher degree of martial satisfaction than people who did not attend Lifegroup.

Jay and Donna, Lifegroup leaders at Antioch, affirm the findings of our survey. The couple recently shared that participation in Lifegroup has strengthened their marriage as well as their individual walk with Jesus. Donna said Jay has always been a faithful husband and provider, but since joining Lifegroup he has also become a stronger spiritual leader in their home. Donna testified how blessed she felt when Jay surprised her at a Lifegroup meeting by challenging all the couples to begin praying together and how Jay took on and followed through on the challenge himself. Jay said meeting with the other men and being accountable to them was a major factor in his spiritual growth. Donna said since joining Lifegroup she has committed to pray more and that has made the biggest difference in her life.

Consistently sharing life issues with similar people creates an environment of growth and development.

This is why we desire every person who attends Antioch to join a Lifegroup. The church wants to make the process of joining a Lifegroup easy, so Thursday, Oct. 1 from 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. the church will host an event called Connect. At Connect, our Lifegroup leaders will assemble in the Auditorium so individuals looking for a Lifegroup can meet them and get information about the groups. Dinner and childcare will be provided.

Sign up today!

 

By Vincent Carpenter, Teaching and Administrative Pastor

 

Finding Family

Lifegroups are the best way to experience family in a large church and family is essential for all of us to grow in our identity and callings.

Maybe you were like me when you were younger and dreamed of being part of one of your friend’s family’s, a family that appeared to have it all together. The longer I live the more learn that there are no perfect families, but some families are healthier than others. The family I grew up in was not especially healthy (to put it lightly). When I was in middle school my mom, the healthiest member of our family, went to be with the Lord. After her death things went from dysfunctional to worse. I bounced around a lot. When I could find a place to live my dad would pay my room and board, but for the most part I was free to do whatever I wanted to do. That kind of freedom for a teenager was fun but super dangerous.

As an insecure high school student, I would dream about being part of my best friend Andy’s family because they were healthy. One day Andy’s younger sister, Amy, heard about how rough things had been for me and that I was living out of my car or couch hopping. Amy is very compassionate but she also has a high justice meter. She called a family meeting with her parents and two brothers and said, “Donny’s situation isn’t right. He needs a family and we are a family and we should ask him to become part of ours.” Someone had a practical question, “Where would he sleep? There is not enough space in Andy’s room for two high school boys.” She quickly replied, “We can make space! Donny and Andy can have my bedroom and I’ll move into Andy’s room.”  (*Side note – Why do girls always get the bigger bedrooms?!)

About a week later Mr. and Mrs. Harrison approached me after church. I was seized with fear and certain I was in trouble and about to be asked not to hang out with Andy anymore. You can bet I was shocked when they said, “Donny you’ve bounced around a lot since your mother passed away and that can’t be good for you. We want you to live with us, but we do not want to offer you a room to rent. We want you to live in our home and be our son and a part of our family. We want you to be ours.” They made space and I moved in. Only God knows where I’d be in life if they had not adopted me. Because they made space for me, my life was changed for the better and I am now living in the identity and calling God has for me.

Family is essential for all of us to grow in our identity and callings.

Second Samuel 14 shares a story about King David being heartbroken because his son, Absalom, was banished from the kingdom after killing Amnon. A women told King David, “Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, He devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from Him.” Now this story gets worse before it gets better, but regardless God’s Word is true and His desire for us motivates Him to devise ways so the banished do not have to remain estranged from Him. This is my story. And yours.

In my life, the Harrison family was God’s “devised way” for me – a self-absorbed, broken and rebellious punk – to not remain estranged from the Father and His purposes for my life.

Bottom Line: God is still devising ways for the banished to not remain estranged from Him.

It is exciting to think of the many ways He has and will use each of us to make space for others to experience His family. This Thursday, February 5th, we will have an event called Connect. It is one of our ways of helping people find a Lifegroup. Important note, there will be free food and free child care…or as I like to call it, “date night.” Ha!

In Response

If you’re looking for a Lifegroup, or know someone who is, please make plans to join us this Thursday.

Sign up to attend Connect.

By Donny Martin, Family Pastor

Leading Worship in Lifegroup

As worship leaders, we’re called to do more than just strum a guitar, sing some songs or make a good iPod playlist. We are called to lead people into the presence of God. The goal of a corporate worship time – whether on a Sunday or house to house – is participation. Our aim as worship leaders then is to create a space in the least distracting way possible to lead people to collectively encounter God and surrender their hearts to Him. Here are a few things to think through as you’re planning your worship time.

First, remember that though you’ve been thinking about worship, most people coming in to your Lifegroup are thinking about work, family issues or really anything other than worshipping God. Our temptation is to jump straight in to an intimate song, but the people in your Lifegroup need you to lead them in to that intimate time. Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.” In starting a corporate worship time, I generally default to leading people to thankfulness. If I can get people to remember Who God is and what He’s done, then I get them to open their hearts up to Him in surrender. As we begin worship, people need to be reminded why we worship. When building your set list for Lifegroup, start with songs that declare and celebrate Who God is and what He’s done. It’s only after the declaration that people are ready to move into the songs of response and surrender.

We are often asked how we get people to raise their hands, clap, sing spontaneously, etc. The answer is simple: tell them to. Simply saying, “let’s all raise our hands,” calls people to step out of their comfort zone and to praise God. The only way that we teach people to be expressive in worship is by calling them to do it and demonstrating it ourselves.

A few practicals:

  • Tune your guitar BEFORE Lifegroup. Don’t make people sit through your tune up. Arrive a few minutes early to Lifegroup and tune in a back room.
  • Practice new songs before Lifegroup. Don’t think that just because you’ve heard a song multiple times that you know the song. There’s a big difference in listening to it (or singing it in church) and actually leading it.
  • Pick songs in the same key or in relative keys. There’s nothing more distracting between songs than that awkward silence of changing your capo. Remember, our goal is to eliminate as many distractions as possible so it’s easier for people to engage.
  • Lower songs from their recorded key. Most songs are recorded to be at the top of a male vocal range. However in a small setting without a full band, it’s more important to make the song attainable for everyone to sing.
  • Sing loudly. No one wants to be the loudest person in the room. By you singing out, it gives other people permission to sing and not feel self-conscious about being heard.
  • Sing known songs. Sing songs sung at our church or in the Church at large. Now is not the time to bring out the obscure song that has been ministering to you in your personal time with God. The goal is participation!
  • Print song sheets. This isn’t mandatory, but it helps the new person to your Lifegroup feel like they can participate (and even those who have been coming for years, but don’t have a knack for lyric memorization). Even if a new person doesn’t know all of the songs, they can at least read along and jump in once they get the hang of the chorus.

For those of you who are less musically inclined and are rocking the iPod during Lifegroup Worship, here are a few tips:

  • Intro worship. Even though you are not playing an instrument, it’s still your job to call people into worship.
  • Get loud speakers. When everyone out-sings your laptop speakers, people lose the music and guests don’t feel comfortable singing out.
  • Put your iPod/phone in airplane mode. It’s always awkward when the music stops for a second or two when you get a text or email.
  • Pick songs without talking in the recording. People don’t know what to do when someone on the recording starts preaching or someone else is praying. Also try not to pick the songs that have extended spontaneous parts or versions people aren’t familiar with. Familiarity helps people engage.
  • Avoid songs that end abruptly. Sometimes you can’t help it, but try to get recordings that end with applause or fade out. Be ready as the worship leader to step into awkward silence between songs. You might need to pray between songs or help people reengage. Be ready to pray at the end and help the transition from worship into whatever is next in Lifegroup.

Finally, the only way we get better is to get feedback.

Don’t be afraid to ask your Lifegroup leaders for feedback about how worship went. Remember – the goal is to increase participation and eliminate distractions. Often we need an outside perspective on how we can help people engage more!

My prayer is that we have powerful, dynamic worship times in our Lifegroups each week as we continue to grow in our worship leadership together.

Owen Wible, Associate Worship Pastor

Lifegroup Changed My Life: An Invitation to Connect

Lifegroup changed my life.  It was never one specific meeting – in fact, I’ve long since forgotten most –but somewhere along the way I woke up and realized my life has been forever changed through 13 years of intentional community.

I’ve found it’s the simple things that change the world; it’s the power of the mundane.

The simplicity of accountability, encouragement and Godly friendship is what empowers us to grow in Christ and live out our calling. This is why Hebrews 10:24-25 states, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Choosing to meet together consistently isn’t always flashy.  At times, my Lifegroup feels like crowd control with 15 young kids, and honestly, sometimes I’d rather just get some rest.  I’ve experienced disappointment as past groups fell apart, close friends moved away and as I’ve seen friends walk away from the Lord.  But still, when I reflect on my life, it’s been the consistency of “meeting together” that’s transformed me.  I would not be the man I am today without it.  God designed us for relationships and we’ll never reach our fullness in Him without it.

Life is busy.  Relationships are hard.  Nevertheless, you need community if you want to grow deeper in God. I pray you can experience this so  you too can look back and say, “Lifegroup changed my life.” But getting there requires a choice to prioritize meeting together, even in the midst of busy lives.

On October 2nd, we are hosting Connect.  It’s an opportunity to interact with multiple Lifegroups representing different personalities, seasons of life and geographic areas so you can find your right fit. The event includes a free meal and childcare.  If you are not currently in a group, please pray about attending and taking this initial step towards getting connected.

And if you are in a Lifegroup, pray about inviting someone to Connect whose life could be changed by Lifegroup. We’ll see you there!

Register for Connect.

By Drew Steadman, Director of Ministries and U.S. Church Planting

Seven Steps to Freedom

Seven Steps to Freedom

Many of us long for transformative healing – the kind of healing that mends the wounds of the past, emotional disturbances, difficult issues of life, lies, sin and strongholds.

Let’s picture that healing process as a highway, one on which we journey with Christ all of our lives.  Prayer with a friend, a revelation straight from God,  an experience in worship, a sword-like word from the pastor, an inner healing session; these are all examples of healing events we may experience on our journeys.

Neil Anderson’s Seven Steps to Freedom serves as an effective on-ramp onto that highway to healing. The Steps address confession and repentance, the renunciation of idols, forgiveness of those who have hurt us and the closing of doors which allow entrance to the enemy.

The Steps are easy to administer. You don’t have to be a professional to take someone through all seven.  Anyone who has been through the Steps themselves can administer this healing process. I am so glad we can provide this life-changing resource to you to be used in Lifegroups, in discipleship and with friends. Transformative healing can happen today.

Download Seven Steps to Freedom

By Vicki Smyer, Counseling Director

House Weekend 2013

Students spend lots of time throughout the weekend in their Lifegroups, learning about community and relationships in the church. They spend time in the Word of God asking, “What if the words on the page actually came to life in our midst?”

On Saturday night we worshiped and sought God together, and students put aside the things that were distracting them from God and returned their focus to Him. It was powerful!

Pray for our Junior High and High School students, that they would become devoted followers of Jesus in their youth and lead those around them into the Kingdom.