This fall, Eagan Hills is starting a groups ministry within our church community.
This means retooling existing groups, starting new ones, and transitioning other studies and mini-congregations to become more intentionally group-oriented.
It holds great promise. It will involve a lot of people, a lot of leaders, and a lot of coordination. It will require leaving behind some established patterns of community, to embrace some new ones.
But why now? And why even do a group emphasis at all?
Groups of people, intentionally meeting, have the potential to open our lives for the transformational work of Jesus Christ. We know God deserves our worship and devotion. We are clear that God and the Bible are the center of our life as a church and as believers. However, we often need people alongside us in prayer and encouragement to help integrate truth into our daily life.
Good content needs close community to apply it into the context of our world.
The early church modeled process and context of spiritual growth. In Acts 2:42-47, we read, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
There are three considerations which have brought Eagan Hills to this point.
First, our church building is full, and we now find ourselves limited by available time and space. How would groups help? Groups are not tied to a specific day of the week, time of day, or location. Groups can meet any day of the week, at any time of the day, in homes or coffee shops anywhere in our area.
People opening the Bible and digging into godly truth, praying for each other and serving together. There it is: a group.
Second, we are changing as a congregation. We are adding worship services, revamping programs to increase capacity and focus, and it is getting harder to know others who are part of our church community. There are many new people (praise God!), and Eagan Hills is not the same congregation as we were just five years ago.
Research has proved this point. One person can “know” about 100 people (150, if you have a great memory); one person can know “pretty well” about 50 people (75, if you are really good and have time to socialize). But we can really know and be known by about 10-12 people, max (15-20, if you have enough margin in your life). A real close circle of intimate friends is normally about 3-4 people.
As we read in Ecclesiastes 4:12, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” This is not a trite saying but a statement of fact. Alone, we are vulnerable; together, we are stronger, in Christ.
We need to “get small”. No one person can know the 1,500 people who may call Eagan Hills their church home; however, you can know 10-20 people really well, praying for each other, tracking on our joys and struggles, and doing life together as a group of committed disciples of Jesus Christ.
In this polarized and digital society, more easily engaged with technology than with people, the need speaks boldly for face-to-face interaction over the Bible, over an extended period of months (if not years), praying for one another, and encouraging each other, not just on Sundays but also the days between.
The wealth of scripture with words of “one another” or “each other” cannot be easily dismissed or ignored. There are not just a couple references which speak to community like this, but dozens of verses which bear it out.
Leadership could wait and hope that people are self-motivated to build relationships, but instead we will be intentional and strategic in our approach, building the opportunity and environment for people to get on a healthy path in their spiritual life in Christ.
Lastly, as you may or may not know, God has faithfully brought Eagan Hills through a tough couple of years of ministry. Our energy was not always focused on community or relationship building, except for the essential and most basic of needs. We also went through several staff transitions, some of which were key people in leadership.
Now it is time to lean into the community to which God has called us.
Pastor Zach and I have been considering “how” and praying over this, especially this past year. We aren’t casually asking leaders to change and engage, nor are we taking the “ask” of the congregation lightly – this is a significant thing for Eagan Hills to do, and we believe God is in it.
This is all part of our renewed mission as a leadership team. While our biblical mandate as a church body is Glorifying God, Loving People, our mission is to develop believers who Gather for Worship, Grow as disciples, and Go live it out. Yes, it’s that simple. We expect members of this church to do it. It’s a healthy path for your life in Christ. To do anything less, honestly, is to limp as Christians.
Join us, and be part of a group. We have been recruiting and training leaders this summer, sign-ups are going on right now, and groups will be starting in mid-September.
This is our heartfelt belief: of all the good we have enjoyed as part of this community, Eagan Hills will be all the more transformed as we are glorifying God and loving people.
About the Author
Pastor of Adult Ministry
Bob started attending EHC in 2008 and joined the staff in 2012. His life verse is Galatians 2:20, and his hope for EHC is to be an exceptional church community, raising up leaders, laughing and praying and worshiping, and living in such a way that people would come to know God (see John 17). Education: B.A. in Pastoral Ministry from Minnesota Bible College in Rochester, MN, and M.A. in Church Leadership from Hope Int’l University in Fullerton, CA.