Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
An essential part of a Christian’s life, and therefore the church, is community. Authentic Community is community that seeks to resemble that of the early church described in Scripture. This kind of community requires a church be about relationships that give Christlike shape to our lives.
In a world that is fragmented, broken, and left to isolation and individualism, the church operates as a counter-cultural community of togetherness comprised of great diversity but united in the gospel of Jesus Christ–our great common denominator. In Christ, we find our new identity and purpose, and through Christ, we love, serve, and give ourselves to one another and in doing so display to the world that we are indeed followers of Jesus Christ (John 13:34-35).
What are Life groups?
Life groups are small groups meeting in homes throughout east Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres. They are gospel-centered and have all types of people in them, including all varieties of families, singles, and people of all ages. These communities involve households of people who allow for gospel-centered relationship.
Life groups provide a structure for deeper more meaningful relationships. Real gospel community requires we do life in close proximity with other believers. When we live out the Gospel with other believers in our life circles (neighborhood, work, recreation) we benefit from the accountability and encourage one another to Christ-shaped lives. This leads to one of the most powerful proclamations of the gospel message to the non-believing world around us.
How to join?
Joining a Life Group is easy! Simply look below and contact the group leader for information, click on the “Join the group” link in the group info, or contact us through e-mail: contactus@providenceSWFL.com. Directions to each group are linked to the map image to the right.
When & Where?
Central Lehigh Acres (1:00 PM Sundays) Join the group
Hosted by Aaron and Laura Roark
344 Dellwood Ave, Lehigh Acres, FL 33936
Group Leader: Josh Sherrell (863)233-9992
Buckingham (1:00 PM Sundays) Join the group
Hosted by Kelly & Alex Hill
14020 Brookstone Ct, Fort Myers, FL 33905
Group Leader: Rex Durham (239) 222-5337
West Lehigh Acres (1:00 PM Sundays) Join the group
Hosted by Aaron & Jaclyn Anderson
5551 Beck St, Lehigh Acres, FL 33971
Group Leader: Shawn Bergen (239) 834-2871
What Goes On?
Each group will have a unique feel to it. Fundamentally, these groups involve time together with other believers to fellowship, discuss & study the Bible, and pray together and for one another. Life groups will usually share a pot-luck style meal together. The goal is for the gospel to be the theme of our time together, so that long-time believers, as well as non-believers, will be impacted by the gospel.
What is Studied?
Each Sunday afternoon life groups will spend time studying God’s word with the particular goal of practically applying what is being studied to every day life. Sometimes this can look like studying the mornings sermon text and discussing the sermon. This provides an opportunity to consider the truths more carefully before moving on to the next week’s sermon. This can also look like reading and discussing a biblically grounded book together that helps members to apply God’s word to a particular area of life and discipleship. Some groups even seek to apply God’s word through telling the stories of the Bible out loud and discussing the gospel truths in the stories! Life Group members week by week grow in relationship with one another and learn from each other how the truths of God’s Word apply to the various aspects of life.
How to Choose?
The most likely way to choose what group to attend, is to determine which group meets closest to your house. It would also be reasonable to attend a group that is not closest to where you live because of relationships that have been established. For example, you may want to choose a group that is a convenient distance away from your home because of a friend’s invitation. We also encourage you to call the group leader and ask for further information that will assist you in deciding. Also, one of the pastors would be glad to recommend a group for you.
1. Do we have to go to a specific home each week or can we visit the various fellowships to determine where we best fit in and feel most comfortable?
A: Our Life groups are designed as a means for members to invest in each other’s lives with the gospel by developing deeper relationships with one another. In order for this to happen, members are encouraged to attend the same group to build continuity and facilitate greater opportunity for spiritual growth together.
2. How are the groups arranged?
A: The groups are arranged by various factors, not the least of which is their geographic location. Members and attenders of Providence are scattered throughout eastern Lee County, and we are prayerfully extending more life groups to other areas where we have opportunity to impact lives through the gospel.
3. What if I am not friends with the people in my group?
A: One of the beautiful things about being in the body of Christ is to see how God has united people with all kinds of differences, including race, age, vocation, family background, and life story. However, the greatest common denominator is the gospel of Jesus Christ that breaks down barriers and helps us overcome obstacles we often times experience in relationships. The unity we experience through such diversity is a God-prescribed way of demonstrating the power of the gospel in a redeemed community. We encourage you to take advantage of the life group you are connected with in order to get to know, love, and serve others in a way that transcends superficial differences and translates into genuine biblical community.
4. What is expected of the children during this time?
A: Children above toddler age are encouraged to participate in the life groups with their parents in learning to apply the truths of God’s Word to their lives. We are living in a time when lowered expectations have precluded children from being able to benefit from hearing, learning, and embracing the truths of Scripture. Together with the modeling of their parents, Life groups provide a great opportunity for children to ask questions, learn, and grow in their understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
5. How long will the life group meetings last?
A: Life Group start times will vary and will be approximately 1½ hours long. This time includes informal periods of fellowship before the discussion period where members will have the opportunity to get to know one another better. There will also be a time after the structured meeting time to encourage one another as well.
6. Will I be required to read or pray out loud in these meetings?
A: No. While we encourage all members to be actively involved, no one will be required to read Scripture or pray out loud. Life groups are intended to be a non-intimidating environment where we have greater exposure to God’s Word as well as to one another for the purpose of learning and growing together.
7. Can I invite friends to attend with me?
A: Absolutely! All of the Life Groups are open and are welcome to the public. What these groups afford members is the opportunity to invite friends, co-workers, or non-Christians from neighboring communities to a hospitable and friendly setting where the gospel is presented, commended, and lived out among believers. While many non-Christians are likely not to enter a church building, they may be more inclined to join you in someone else’s home, so invite anyone and everyone you know to join in!
8. Why should I be involved?
A: You should be involved because God has called you to live in community with other believers to faithfully discharge the duties of a new covenant disciple of Christ. We have been entrusted with the gospel and are responsible to share that gospel with one another in ways that are personal, genuine, and life-transforming. Life groups provide an avenue for members to give and receive from one another that which God has done in them through Christ. Your involvement in these groups means that the truths you have learned and the gifts you have been given are to build up other believers for the mutual care and vice-versa.
9. Will there be other people my age or in my stage of life?
A: Yes and no. The Life Groups are not designed according to gender or age but are intended to be a small, intergenerational gathering where you can learn from others who have gone before you as well as serve as an example to others at various seasons of life. In each group, there will be mature Christians, new Christians, and non-Christians—all of whom need the gospel each and every day of their lives.
10. Will the life groups have snacks and/or refreshments?
A: Typically various individuals or families within life groups coordinate with the Life Group leader and host home to provide to bring a meal that is shared by all for Sunday afternoon lunch.