Life Groups: Give it a try. What have you got to lose?

Remaining invisible and unknown in a big community like Sherwood Park Alliance Church is easy if you don’t intentionally seek ways to get to know and connect with others. Indeed, a desire to connect with others was why Andy and Kim Haag joined five different Life Groups when they first moved to Sherwood Park 12 years ago! Joining Life Groups was how they got to know people and connect with others at church. In a large church like Sherwood Park Alliance Church, being in a life group can be very helpful in getting to know others. If you don’t get involved in a small group, you very well might find yourself in the position where you simply end up saying “hi” to others at church and never really connecting all that deeply with anyone in particular.

Andy and Kim transitioned from Life Group attendees to Life Group Leaders nine years ago as they wanted to wholeheartedly follow God’s calling in their lives and to really deeply dive into God’s word. “It’s one thing to attend the group and it’s another to lead a group because it requires another level of knowing the material—it drives me to go deeper in pursuit of God’s truth; I want to do that with others,” says Andy. Their Life Group is currently studying The Book of Revelation , which is quite challenging and requires substantial “prep-work” on their part. “I’m not afraid of controversy, to ask questions or answer them,” says Andy who enjoys being able to facilitate a deep conversation that requires discussion and contemplation. “As Christians, we should be able to disagree in a respectable fashion, and perhaps change perceptions. We welcome different perspectives.” Kim and Andy want to facilitate an environment of trust where people feel comfortable expressing their opinions and feel empowered to approach topics of discussion that may be personal, provocative, and difficult depending on what they may be going through. Being in a Life Group allows people to be there for one another. “It’s not a cliché; it’s a way to do life together. One of the most rewarding things [about being in a Life Group] is being able to minister to people when they are hurting.”

Leadership and teaching come naturally for Andy which he considers his spiritual gifts. Kim’s spiritual gifts revolve around hospitality; she has the natural ability to make people feel at ease and comfortable (homemade cookies pre-COVID helped too)! Together, they are a rich leadership team who value the connections and friendships they have made over the years, but it hasn’t always been easy. “There have been some ‘growth’ moments, and there were times when we didn’t know if anyone would show-up,” says Kim. Their perseverance and their desire to lead a Life Group remained firm as a result of their unwavering sense of purpose: to glorify God and to serve Him.

The group currently has 12 members who come from a variety of backgrounds. Due to COVID, the group has transitioned from meeting in person to meeting via Zoom. This transition to online group, although certainly not the same as in-person meetings, has resulted in some real positives. The group is able to welcome people regardless of their health status (i.e., they can still safely show up if they have COVID symptoms or anything else for that matter) and now includes one person who has joined in all the way from British Columbia! Moreover, since moving to online meetings, attendance has been almost perfect. Kim and Andy take comfort in knowing that the literal health of the group members is not threatened in any way because of group attendance. COVID could have been an easy excuse to stop gathering, but for Kim and Andy “a time like this [a global pandemic] is precisely the time to reach out. What better time to grow in God’s Word and your faith, and further your life with Christ?”

Kim and Andy encourage everyone to take a chance and join a Life Group citing that the positives of being part of a Life Group far out-weigh the negatives. “Try it. If you don’t like it, you might lose a couple hours of your life, but you might love it and it could become such an enriching experience. If the group is run right, [it’s] a safe place to come. I want to do life with you, so why would I want to make you petrified?”

The couple’s Life Group is about learning, laughing, food (pre-COVID), and fun. Kim notes that “this is a safe place to just be. We do discipleship together by learning what it means to walk with Christ, and we have fun doing it!”

Andy and Kim’s advice: Give it a try. What do you have to lose? 

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