One of the goals of this transition season at Southside is to see multiple groups of individuals and families sharing life together and living life on mission – serving the city and each other. We are seeking to be theological, relational, and missional. This can occur in multiple ways.
Community Groups will be a venue in which believers and unbelievers alike can gather together to dialogue about what is being taught in our Sunday gatherings. There are at least four integral components of a community group: 1) Worship – to meet with God and to know Him is our highest priority. 2) Conversational Prayer and Mutual Ministry – having a conversation together with God is an essential way to build unity; first by praising God and then by praying in response to the needs expressed. 3) Application of the Bible – we will seek not just to talk about the Bible, or about each other. Rather, we want our groups to seek to be transformed by the truth of the Gospel. So we will do our best to apply the truths learned to our everyday lives. 4) Sharing a Life – there’s nothing like an honest testimony to illustrate what is being taught. When a person shares with the group, s/he feels more a part of the group. The objective of the leader is not to be the authority or even the teacher, but the guide.
Also, Community Groups are missional communities that will act as missionary teams, seeking the good of their unchurched family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. They will be concerned with praying for and serving their sphere of relationships in such a way as to let them know that we are Christ’s disciples because we love one another.
Finally, and most simply stated, our community groups are networks of Christ-centered relationships. They are friends seeking to learn how to “speak the truth in love” to one another. They spend time together, meet one another’s needs, watch one another’s kids, bear one another’s burdens, encourage one another, challenge one another, hold one another accountable, rejoice with one another, weep with one another, correct one other, be corrected by one another.
This is gospel community. It is not natural. It is not easy. It is messy. It can be frustrating. But it is good, and it will change you.
Gathering for Worship:
This is perhaps what most people think of as “Going to Church.” Church, however, is not an event, or a ceremony – it is people. Those who have been saved by God’s grace have been saved into God’s family, into a community. So it is only natural for local pockets of this family to come together and celebrate what God has done in Jesus. We come together to celebrate the truth of the gospel and to rehearse the gospel by singing it, praying it, hearing it preached, and seeing it in communion and (God-willing) baptism. We come together to encourage and be equipped for lives on mission. Expect mostly expositional preaching (verse by verse through books of the bible), seeking to exalt Christ and unpack the gospel in every text. Expect communion often, if not every week, (we like remembering the gospel as many times in as many ways as possible.) Expect to be told the truth – no pulled punches. We won’t “Go to church.” The Church will gather.
Discipleship (Life-Long Learning)
We believe that gospel-centered (or Christ-centered) living will make us desperate for theology and that our worship gathering will whet your appetite for theology. However we see a huge need for an ever-increasing understanding of our faith. We live in an age of skepticism and relativity. In many places Christ and the church have been pushed to the margins of society instead of existing at the center. We believe that Christianity is a relational worldview that is complex, beautiful, and meaningful. We believe that if we are going to be effective missionaries we must understand our Bibles, love what it teaches, and proclaim its contents. We all have a lot to learn, and we envision venues within Southside that will take time to work through learning the central truths of our faith.