First CRC Weekly News

Wednesday, June 1st

Looking Forward

Dear First CRC family and friends,

WELCOME to our new online newsletter!

Grab a coffee, pull up a chair, and discover what's new at First. Over the summer I will be sending you emails primarily regarding two important topics:

1. Sermon-Based Life Groups - We are excited to announce that we are planning to initiate a new church-wide small group program in the Fall. So much work has been done already to prepare for that date. These emails will try to answer any questions you might have about this new initiative.

2. NexStep Assessment Process - As promised, we will keep you informed on any new or recent developments as we, your Council, work through the prescriptions we received in April.

I look forward to sharing our new vision with you!

In Christ,

Pastor Justin

Life Groups

I will begin this week by answering some "Frequently Asked Questions."

What is a Life Group?

A Life Group is a home fellowship made up of approximately 12-15 people who meet weekly to share, study God’s Word, and support one another. A trained leader and host, commissioned by the Church Leadership, lead each group. An average meeting lasts for about 90 minutes, followed by (or starting with) light refreshments.

Why Life Groups?

Here at First CRC, we envision Life Groups to be the hub of our ministry. We envision them to be the place where the real ministry of the church takes place as we study God's Word, while supporting and sharing our lives with one another. We believe that meeting together on a regular basis is time well spent. There are two essential things we want each and every member of our church to be ‘velcroed’ to: The Word of God and fellow Christians.

To start, our goal each semester is to have at least 50% of our adults involved in a Life Group. By 2020, we would like that number to reach 70%! It's a lofty goal, we know! But we hope and pray that you would give it a try and that the Lord will bless our efforts.

When and Where Do They Meet?

Life Groups will meet on various nights of the week in homes mostly throughout Hanford and Kings County. Most evening groups will likely meet between 6 and 9 pm.

How Long Do They Last?

Each Life Group session lasts only 10 to 12 weeks. We will have Fall & Spring sessions (that's 20 weeks/year). At the end of each session, you will have the choice of staying in the same group, trying a new group, or even taking a break.

Life Groups will not meet mid-June through August. During the summer months, the church will seek to offer various affinity groups (i.e. church-wide missions projects, hiking, biking, sports, etc).

What is the Required Commitment?

Joining a Life Group requires a 10 to 12 week commitment to attend weekly meetings and do the homework ahead of time. Obviously, allowances are made for sickness, vacation, work conflicts and other special events, but not much more. This commitment is the key to a strong Life Group. You have the first three weeks to attend the group to make sure it's a good fit for you.

What Will We Study?

Most of the studies are based on the previous Sunday morning's message. These "sermon-based" Life Groups are built on what we call a "Lecture-Lab" model. Imagine the weekend message as a lecture on Christian living, and the Life Group as a lab where you get to roll up your sleeves and discuss how the message works in real life. Each week there will be a series of Bible passages and questions on the back of the sermon note sheet to study before the meeting. It will usually take 20 to 30 minutes per week to complete the homework.

What Does It Cost?

Few things in life are free and Life Groups are no exception! The cost of Life Groups is the cost of commitment. During the third meeting, each group will complete a "covenant" together. This simple form helps each group discuss their priorities and commitment. Part of that commitment is the promise to attend each week and to complete the homework as well as to attend the semesterly ‘social’ and ‘serve’ project.

When you join a Life Group, you're promising to attend and be prepared each week. It's this commitment that makes Life Groups work (We realize it's a big commitment, but it only lasts for 10 – 12 weeks). At the end of each semester, you have the choice of recommitting to the same group, trying a new group, or taking a break from Life Groups altogether.

What About Child Care?

Life Groups are for adults only. (Exceptions can be made for nursing newborns, up to six months.) We leave it up to each family to work out their own child care.

To offset the financial commitment of childcare, you may consider one of these options:

1. Share a sitter with another member of your group.

2. Ask a family member (grandparents!) to watch your children.

3. Find a family that meets on a different night and watch each other's' children (free!).

4. You can apply for a subsidy from the church to offset the cost.

5. We care so much about you being in (or at least trying out) a Life Group that if finances are the only obstacle that stands in your way, we encourage you to take the cost of childcare out of your tithe.

How Do I Choose A Group?

When selecting a group, we strongly recommend you choose a group based on its leader-host team and station-in-life, rather than its location. We think that groups do best when members share a common station-in-life and other interests with their leaders, hosts, and other group members. In the end, you'll find it's worth the drive! Sign-ups for our Fall session will begin in September.

Are There Life Groups for Teenagers?

Yes, our High School and Jr. High ministries both offer small groups for students. For more information about Junior High or High School groups, please contact Pastor Joel.

When Do Life Groups Start?

There are two sign-up/promotion months:

1. FALL SEMESTER - September


NexStep Assessment

As you will recall, Dr. Bill Hoyt and the NexStep Assessment Team gave our congregation five prescriptions (actually it was seven but the other two were to hire a coach and to vote on the previous prescriptions). As a Full Council, we wholeheartedly submitted to the NexStep process and voted unanimously in the affirmative to proceed with them. We also sent them to you, the congregation, and received a 90% affirmative vote to proceed.

I have listed the prescriptions below for your reference:

1. Adopt a more effective and proven governance model and organizational structure.

2. Engage in an envisioning process to create a compelling vision giving clear direction for the future.

3. Commit to becoming an outward focused, missional, evangelistically-effective church:

  • The strategies to accomplish this to be identified by September 30, 2016
  • With full implementation of the strategies to follow

4. Develop and implement effective systems for:

  • Spiritual formation (small groups) by September 1, 2016
  • Assimilation by January 31, 2017
  • Leader Development by March 31, 2017

5. Declare First CRC a safe place where:

  • People forgive as they have been forgiven
  • Conflict is handled biblically, and
  • Gossip is not tolerated

Next week I will give you an update on how this has been progressing. Look forward to that.

That's all for now. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me.


Each week I will invite us to lift up one particular topic on prayer.

This week, please pray for your Council.

They have worked diligently since entering their respective offices and their load has only increased since April when we started working through the prescriptions. God has called each of these men to this office for this appointed time to lead us. Please pray that the Lord will grant them wisdom, discretion, and unity as we move forward.

Thought of the Week

Each week I will share an insight or perspective. No promises on whether it will be insightFUL...

This week's insight: This newsletter has been really long! If you're even reading this, give yourself a hand!

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