LIFE GROUP LEADER GUIDE
For the week of September 17, 2023
This guide is designed to give helpful hints in preparing & leading your group in discussion.
This week, we kick off our Fall Life Group Quarter. Your first gathering is designed to give you time to get acquainted, enjoy a meal together and connect with each other, as well as time to discuss how to make your Life Group meetings great! The questions have been shortened this week to allow ample time to accomplish all of this. To prepare for your first meeting, take some time to focus on the questions below and be prepared to share your answers with the group.
Online Groups – If your group is meeting online, your leaders will be sending you the link for your group. Use this link for tips on meeting with your group online: lifegroups.northcoastchurch.com/pro-tips/
GETTING READY FOR YOUR FIRST MEETING
Each week in this section you’ll find the most important information for your group.
Goals of the First Meeting
- Re-connect with existing members and meet new members
- Cast vision for the quarter with your group
- Clarify your group’s direction/expectations / commitments using the Life Group Commitment Form
- Briefly discuss the sermon topic (if there is time)
- Pray for the building of relationships and the spiritual growth of the group
Items Needed for the First Meeting
- Life Group Commitment Form– Review this with your group. This was mailed to you last week in your leader packet, and can also be found online here: lifegroups.northcoastchurch.com/life-group-covenants/
- Nametags for in-person groups (print or write them out ahead of time).
Contact Your Group in Advance
- Contact all members one week before the first meeting to welcome them to the group. You can check your roster online to see all the members of your group and their contact information. You can find instructions on how to check your roster here: lifegroups.northcoastchurch.com/how-to-view-your-roster/
- In-person groups – Inform members of the location and time of your group and how you’re handling food.
- Online groups – Make sure you send the link to your meeting well in advance and preferably again on the day you meet.
Pro-Tips to Maximize the Online Group’s Experience
1) Shorten meetings to 75 minutes or less.
2) Use break-out rooms to personalize conversation. (If possible, try to do this at least 5-10 minutes every meeting.)
3) Coach people on how to engage and speak up online. (Practicing this can really help.)
* More how-to’s at this link: Pro-Tips & Facilitation Tips to maximize your Online Experience.
ABOUT POLITICS IN LIFE GROUP – We believe it is important for Jesus followers to think through and process how they are going to vote and engage in politics. But due to the polarizing nature of our current political climate, we want to keep our Life Group meetings free of politics and focused on relationships with each other and God’s Word.
Presenting the Good News of Jesus’ saving grace to all, and the unity we have as believers is vitally important to us. In light of this, remember to keep politics completely out of your Life Group discussions. We exist to minister to everyone who wants to know Jesus. Every election cycle we have Christians who become divided over issues and can be deeply offended by comments, jokes, and even prayer requests. We do not want to send the message that people who vote a certain way or have differing political views are not welcome. If someone in your group starts to take things in a political direction (be it with humor, a rant or even a “prayer request” for a specific outcome), gently remind them that the body of Christ (and North Coast Church) is made up of followers of Jesus – some of whom are Republicans, Independents, Democrats, etc.
If you by chance missed Chris’ sermon on why love wins from August 12, please take some time to listen to it. northcoastchurch.com/2023-life-or-death-the-book-of-john/
AGENDA FOR YOUR FIRST MEETING
Looking for more guidance on your first meeting? You can find the “First Night Agenda” on how to make your first night great on the Leader Tools page of our website. (lifegroups.northcoastchurch.com/make-your-first-night-great/) You can also listen to the audio version of the leader guide here.
How We Measure our Success Week to Week: Hearing from everyone at every meeting and keeping God’s Word at the center.
Make sure you leave plenty of time to go over the Life Group Commitment Form with your group.
- Welcome & Eat – Potluck is a great option. Online groups can try a virtual dinner option if they would like.
- Group Sharing – Discussion Note: You can transition from the “Getting to Know You” section to the “Taking it Home” section.
- Study Questions Discussion (optional)
- Go over the Life Group Commitment Form – Use the last question in the Leader Guide to Study Questions below to transition into reviewing the Commitment Form.
- Close in prayer.
- Mingle afterward.
Discussion Note: Add these questions if you have new people in your group or a completely new group. If it hasn’t come up in conversation before the meeting officially starts, have everyone in the group share how long they have been attending North Coast, if they have been in a Life Group before and their favorite hobby.
Discussion Tips: These are effective for both in-person and online groups. Remember to set time limits to ensure everyone has an opportunity to answer the questions. Possibly use the “Tag— You’re It” method to ensure everyone can share. Once one person is finished sharing, they select the next person to share.
One of the best parts of being in a Life Group is building and growing friendships by getting to know each other better. Take a moment to answer the questions below and be ready to share with your group.
Even if your group has been together previous quarters, you can have fun with these questions during your potluck or social time.
- Tell us about yourself …
- You’re going back to school for one day. What year would you pick and why?
- Finish this sentence: “I know it’s fall when…”
- It’s time to build your own pizza! What are your favorite toppings?
- What was the highlight of your summer?
This is a good way to catch up with each other if you’re a returning group reuniting after the summer break.
Looking back at your notes from this week’s teaching, was there anything you heard for the first time or something that caught your attention, challenged, or confused you?
You may or may not have time to discuss the sermon due to the time spent socializing and going over the Life Group Commitment.
Discussion Note: Because of the extra time spent getting to know each other or re-connecting, make sure you have enough time to spend on the “Looking Ahead” section. The questions below can be used to flow into the Life Group Commitment and what your group members hope to see in your time together as a group.
This weekend, we heard about how the Holy Spirit shows people Christ through us. Chris mentioned we should “never attempt this alone.” Life Groups are one of the ways we commit to not doing this alone—by gathering with others who will remind us of what God wants to do in our lives. Read the following verses that talk about what this looks like.
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 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.
1 Thessalonians 5:8-11
8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Corinthians 12:12, 25-27
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.
25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Describe in your own words what “encourage one another” means to you. When do you feel encouraged by others and how does it impact your relationship with Jesus?
What is one phrase or idea from these verses you hope to see play out in your time together as a group this quarter?
If you are a returning group, you could ask: What are some ways you have seen these ideas play out in our group already? Is there anything you hope we as a group continue to do or start doing more of?
Life Groups meet every week to gain the encouragement and support we need in life as we follow Jesus. Take a moment to write some of the reasons you’re in a Life Group, along with what you are looking forward to the most.
Important question to hear from everyone.
Transition Statement to Life Group Commitment: “It’s great to hear what each of you has said about what you want to get out of your time in our group. One of the great benefits of being in a Life Group is the opportunity to have help from others as we seek to be strategic and intentional about our spiritual growth. The Life Group Commitment is designed to serve as intentional guidelines to help us make the most of our time together.”
Go over the Life Group Commitment Form with your group. See below, or you can download the Leader Guide to the Life Group Commitment. Use this as a guide to keep your group healthy in communicating and caring for one another each week. (The leader audio will give you more details on how to do this effectively.)
Close in prayer: If you have anyone new in your group and you don’t know them, it is recommended to close with your host or one person praying. Next week, the Study Questions will include an introduction to praying in a group, so if you have a new group or a lot of new members, it’s suggested that you wait until week two to do any group prayer.
Mingle with everyone after the meeting. Even if you’re online, stay on an extra 10 minutes to see if anyone wants to connect and hang out just like you would at an in-person meeting.
Life Groups exist to promote spiritual maturity and personal growth through meaningful Christian relationships and the study of God’s Word. (Romans 8:29 & Hebrews 10:24-25). Here’s how it will happen:
Each week we’ll take time to share what is happening in our lives. At first this sharing will include planned “sharing questions.” But after the first few weeks, it will become more informal and personal as we feel more comfortable.
Each week we’ll study a section from God’s Word that relates to the previous weekend’s sermon or an appropriate personal growth topic. Our goal is to learn how to live out our Christianity in everyday life.
Each week we’ll learn how to take care of one another as Christ commanded (John 15:9-13). This care can take many forms, such as prayer, encouragement, listening, challenging one another and meeting real needs.
Spiritual growth is fostered not only by what we gain through the support and input of others, but also through service to others. The role each of us fills is important to the health of the church and for us to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the community in which we live (Ephesians 4:11-16). Throughout the quarter, it is our hope that you can find and/or be affirmed in the ways God has designed you to serve and make a difference in God’s Kingdom.