Every home has a aroma about it. You get it on you when when you visit and smell it when you leave. It is noticeable and generally unique. My grandfather’s house had a good blend of expensive flannel, cigarette smoke, and cabin wood. We would always carry grandpa’s fragrance with us home. We loved it.
Your LifeGroup needs a smell about it. Members need to wear it. Visitors need to taste it. The fragrance of your fellowship ought to permeate your gatherings and motivate your conversations. It is your steeze. Your culture. Your focus. It says what you are and who you are. It is the unique aroma that captures the essence of your LifeGroup. When people visit, they leave with you on them.
There is no trick to creating a smell, but it does start with three main ingredients: identity, mission, and vision. Make no mistake, these tiny words pack big punches. They spell big things for LifeGroups. Here is what I did to create mine and some hints on how you can develop your own.
If you have been getting started before you get started, then you have a plenty of notes in your journal. Odds are that God has been directing your thoughts and granting you ideas. You only need to put these notes in a pot and mix up it up. This is where your LifeGroup identity is discovered.
Think of your identity as a summary of who you are. It should capture and communicate your uniqueness. I suggest that you form a name and even a logo. Developing a concise slogan or set of colors will also help. My plan was to a LifeGroup that would extend generational and ministry contexts. The idea of “extending ourselves” was then developed into the name Reach. Finally, the name introduced certain emblems and objects that eventually formed a logo.
In a big sense, the mission of the LifeGroup is determined by the church leadership. They commissioned the group to begin with, so they decide why the group will exist. My church captures this in four words: know, grow, care, and share. These words describe the greater existence of LifeGroups in general with a focus on genuine fellowship, spiritual growth, and personal evangelism.
Your LifeGroup mission should exist within the greater mission set by the church. I decided to think in terms of our identity and how it could communicate the big ideas in a unique and creative way. I settled with borrowing language from Acts 2:42 and ultimately ended up with this: For God’s glory, we devote ourselves to the teaching of God’s word, the fellowship with God’s people, and the prayers for God’s power. We call them the 3D’s of pursuing life together. It gave us talking points as well as an easy way to communicate what we are doing as a LifeGroup.
A pastor once told me that vision is where identity and mission connect. I like to think of it as a picture of your destination. Vision is a measurable end-point that gives your LifeGroup focus and expectation as well as drive and creative energy. Vision is tricky and requires a great deal of prayer. In fact, I would suggest that you not rush into it. Rather, you ought to patiently wait to see what God might tell you.
Vision is meant to be accomplished and recreated. As your LifeGroup evolves and takes shape, God will set it on a course that is likely not yet in your mind, or maybe it is. You might take your identity and mission and end with a vision for multiplication—planting one new LifeGroup each year. At any rate, it needs to be big and measurable. Otherwise, you will die slowly or never reach it.
One last thing, do as much of this work as you can. Finalize some options, but don’t decide on any one thing until you have pitched it to your launch team—a core group of people who can help you screen ideas prayerfully. (We will talk about that later.) And while you are at, know that God establishes the steps of your LifeGroup, even when you make your plans (Prov. 16:9). Be prepared to make them according to God’s will.
Oh, and one final thing: Be sure your smell don’t stink.