John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, sought to bring revived passion for Jesus by encouraging folks to join together in small groups to listen, study, and share their lives and faith.
At First Church we see small groups as the key to building intimate community with one another and facilitating deep spiritual growth. We encourage people (new and long time attenders) to make a commitment to participate in a Dinner or Life group as a part of their ongoing spiritual discipline.
We also invite folks to engage in the additional study opportunities
that develop throughout the year for even deeper learning.
Common Questions About Small Groups
What is a Dinner Group?
A small group of people (no more than 12) who commit to an informal time of sharing a meal together once a month with the intention of fostering greater community and building relationships. The meal can be at a restaurant or at a group member’s home. Dinner Groups are centered on fostering fun and strengthening friendships. These groups do not require study preparation.
What is a Life Group?
A small group of 4-6 people who have a high commitment level to meet regularly and maintain confidentiality as they build intimate spiritual community. A Life Group provides safe space for each member to be heard, encouraged, and offered accountability in their individual faith journey. Each group will decide together how often, where, and for how long they will meet. Groups can meet in one another’s homes, at the church, or at a restaurant. These groups do not require study preparation, however, they do require high confidentiality and a high level of commitment.
What happens at a Dinner or Life group?
Dinner and Life groups offer casual yet intimate opportunities to get to know others and have good conversation. The point of both groups is to foster deeper relationships, have fun together, and grow spiritually. Each person is in control of what they share with others.
Do Dinner/Life Groups have a leader?
Each group is designed to share responsibility among all participants for the health of the group…so there is no leader. All are the leaders and participants.
How long do Dinner or Life Groups stay together?
Dinner groups are asked to commit to sharing 1 year together (September – August). The group can decide to continue beyond that year if they would like, however, each August we will offer an opportunity for everyone to change and try a new group if desired.
Life groups are designed to create intimate and committed small groups who will hopefully journey through life together for many years. Therefore, each group is asked initially to commit to 6 months of meeting together regularly. After 6 months there will be an evaluation time where individuals can decide if this is the right fit for them. Of course each group must run its own course, but it is our hope that once a group finds its own rhythm beyond the 6 month point that they will meet together for years to come.
Where and when do these groups meet?
Dinner and Life groups decide together where and when they meet based on what is best for them. Groups can decide to meet at the church, at a restaurant, in each other homes, etc. We encourage each group to consider members’ transportation, childcare, housing, and socio –economic needs before deciding on location and time.
Is there childcare available?
Childcare varies since each group decides when and where they meet. Groups are encouraged to discuss childcare needs as a part of their formation and to take that into consideration as they decide their schedule.
What if the group I join doesn’t fit for me?
If you find yourself in either a Dinner or Life group that is not the right fit for you then of course you do not need to stay in that group. You may contact Rev. Stephanie Arnold at Stephanie@firstchurchbhm.com for assistance in finding the right fit for you! Don’t be discouraged as it is not unusual for it take trying a few different groups before you find the right fit for you!
Aren’t these groups just going to create cliques?
Any group can become a clique when they care more about themselves than helping others find their way into community. First Church makes the commitment to assist in creating a group for anyone who wants to be in a Dinner or Life Group! It is true that because of size constraints and sharing that not everyone can be in the same group. These groups are not intended to be circles of our best friends, but opportunities for each of us to expand our community and grow through developing deeply caring relationships. It is our hope these groups help us all meet new people we can trust and love!
How do I get in a Dinner Group or Life Group?
We are thrilled you are considering participating in a small group at First Church. All you have to do is fill out the sign up form and you will be contacted about participating in a group. You may already know people you would like to be in a Dinner or Life Group with or you may not know anyone yet. Either way is perfectly fine. We will help you create the best possible fit for your needs!
ABOUT OUR CHURCH
An historic church in the heart of downtown Birmingham, First Church Birmingham is an open place for ALL to worship, grow, and serve. We are a diverse congregation made up of people from all over the Birmingham metro area and beyond.
You are welcome here!
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First Church Birmingham
518 19th St North
Birmingham, AL 35203
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