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HOME GROUP SABBATICAL | FALL 2017

WHAT IS A HOME GROUP SABBATICAL?

It’s an intentional season of rest from our home group (small group) ministry at Liberti Church. And it’s something we’ll be entering into together during the fall of 2017.

Here’s where this idea and terminology comes from: In Exodus 23 and Leviticus 25, God commands the Israelites that after six years of working the land, they are to let the land keep a Sabbath year. They are to “let the land lie fallow” for a year of Sabbath rest. Apart from mirroring the work/rest rhythms of life that God has woven into creation, letting the ground lie fallow actually led to greater fruitfulness. Pushing hard year after year made the ground yield less, not more. Allowing the ground to rest replenished and renewed the soil.

WHY A HOME GROUP SABBATICAL?

For three primary reasons. First, though we’ve seen some really valuable things happen in home groups, as a church we’ve struggled to clearly define their purpose. Home groups have led to some good relational connections. But those connections haven’t translated into effective discipleship relationships. Broadly, we aren’t seeing home groups help people become more rooted in the gospel and formed in Christ. Taking a season off gives us the capacity to rethink our approach without the pressures of trying to keep things running.

Second, our hope is that setting aside the structure of home groups for a season will provide both rest and freedom to relationally pursue one another well. At times, systems, structures and programs are helpful. Vines need a trellis on which to grow. At other times, structures feel more like cages that hinder growth. We are praying God will use this season of rest and freedom to inject new life into both our desire to follow Christ and our desire to live in community with one another.

Third, life and ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. With a long view, we think this will be the most fruitful and life-giving approach for everyone at Liberti Church. So this is not an abandonment of all the good pursuits we’ve undertaken through home groups the past 5 years. Instead, the best we can discern it, this is the faithful path to more fruitfulness in the future.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME?

In many ways, a home group sabbatical requires more effort and intentionality from all of us. At times, we can presume upon structures. In other words, we can assume that we are faithfully embodying Christian community, pursuing discipleship and the 50+ “one another” commands of the New Testament because our name is on a group’s roster.

But are we really embodying faithful Christian community? Step back and ask yourself that question. If the answer is yes, keep pursuing that. If you’ve been in a home group, you may have built or begun to build some really life-giving, formative relationships. By all means keep pursuing those during this home group sabbatical. And keep your eyes open for opportunities to build those kinds of relationships with others – whether they’re brand new here or they’ve been at Liberti for years.

But if the answer is no, this is the time to take more ownership. Ownership of your own relationship with Christ. And ownership of seeing others formed in Christ. You might say: “I have no idea how to do that!” That’s an honest starting point. Are you willing to learn? If so, that’s ownership. And here are a few practical ways to continue or to begin:

PRACTICAL PURSUITS DURING A HOME GROUP SABBATICAL

For the Israelites, letting the ground lie fallow was intentional time to rejuvenate and replenish the soil. Here are some ways you can replenish and rejuvenate the figurative “soil” of your own life and heart – and help others do the same – during this season:

Pray:

  • Ask God to renew your desire for Him. Pray you would live every moment out of a deep sense of satisfaction in Christ – that his steadfast love truly is better than life. (Psalm 63:4)
  • Pray that God would work powerfully in your life and through your circumstances to conform you, more and more, to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29)
  • Pray that this home group sabbatical would inject new life into our relational pursuits of one another at Liberti Church. That we would love one another (John 13:34), carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) and outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10).

Immerse Yourself in God’s Word:

Read: 

  • In Our Joy by John Piper. It’s a concise book about pursuing satisfaction and delight of your soul in God. As we’ve endeavored to do life in community well these past 5 years, we’ve become convinced that meaningful, life-giving community flows from men and women who are being renewed, day by day, in their delight, astonishment, awe, and satisfaction in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Download a free PDF copy at: www.desiringgod.org/books/in-our-joy

A NOTE TO THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE NEW OR NEWER TO LIBERTI CHURCH

You’ve joined us in a unique and important moment in the life of our church. We apologize in advance for any difficulty this creates for you in getting relationally connected during this season. We truly hope you feel welcomed at Liberti. And we hope you hear the heart of why we’re taking this home group sabbatical. Long-term, we’re convinced this is actually going to serve you and the future people of Liberti Church better.

Just because we’re taking a sabbatical from home groups doesn’t mean there aren’t great opportunities to make connections and begin getting folded into this community. Visit the Opportunities to Connect page and consider jumping in through one or more of those options in the days and weeks to come.