Church is about community: the ability to worship as a community, the chance to serve God and his creation as a community and the opportunity to contribute to the lives of fellow Christians as a community. Of course, one question might be “how do we best function as a community?”
In August of this year, the UCC elders announced the plans for a new ministry at University Church of Christ: the Common Life Groups.
The Common Life groups have been created to help foster community life here at UCC. These four groups will have responsibilities to each other and the church as a whole. We are asking that the groups approach this new ministry with openness. We want this new ministry to be covered in prayer. And most of all, we want the Common Life groups to foster a deeper connection to each other, making us a stronger body of believers and a stronger community.
Goals of Common Life
As part of an approach to building a vigorous community life at UCC, the Common Life groups are responsible for the following life transitions and opportunities for service:
• Long-term shut-in care
• Funeral care
• Extended illness and hospice
• Enhancing connections within their group and UCC
• Intergenerational relationships
Each of the four Common Life groups has two or three elder couples, plus a handful of other couples or singles that will help lead. The leaders will be men and women of spiritual maturity who care for the people in their charge. The leaders will serve two-year terms, staggered to allow both continuity and transition.
Each month, the leaders will meet regularly as a leadership group to pray for their group, collaborate on ministry to its members, and envision new strategies for caring for the souls in the group. The leaders will make contact with members of their group and work to incorporate new members at UCC into its life. They will also notify the church office of needs, communicate with the funeral team as needed, mentor other members of the group when possible, and enlist and equip members of the group to serve others.
The members of the Common Life groups will be involved in Christian relationships with others in the group. As such, members will be encouraged to pray for one another, visit each other in homes and elsewhere, and form small groups for study, prayer, fellowship and service together. The members are also asked to communicate with each other in times of transition or crisis as well as support their leaders in prayer, in encouragement and in service together.
Leaders should communicate regularly once a month themselves face-to-face and via whatever media seems appropriate to them. The leaders should also communicate to the church office, ministers and other UCC leaders regularly to insure any gaps in ministry are closed. Members and leaders should notify elders of major issues within their group requiring work in repairing relationships, solving problems and deepening understanding of Christian teaching and practice. Communication also needs to flow freely on a regular basis to all members of the group using whatever media seems most appropriate.
Opportunities for Community
The Common Life groups are not specifically designed for certain meeting times and dates. However, they should encourage community by offering care and support by building and sustaining relationships.
Groups could consider monthly visitations with shut-ins, supporting widow/widowers, helping our college students or interacting with our singles and others in transitional stages in life, among many other options. Leaders and members alike could meet in smaller clusters to revitalize hospitality by getting to know a variety of families and individuals in the group. The groups could offer seasons of prayer and reading of God’s word for spiritual renewal among its members. Groups could create a Facebook page and/or use other forms of social media to interact and engage with each other.
Each group needs to do whatever is possible to engage with all of its members. By creatively creating new connections among ourselves, we can find new ways for intergenerational ministry to occur. Let us recognize the important milestones in the lives of the group members and enlist each other to do whatever is possible to work together in the greater good of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Finally, since we share in the same purpose of worshipping the one and only God while striving to teach others about the Good News, we want to foster the idea of community. In this life together, we will come to share a Common Life.