Our community groups are one of the primary ways in which we experience community as the body of Christ. We believe in the vital importance of Sunday celebrations where the Word of God is taught (Acts 20:26-32; 1 Tim. 4:11-16; 5:17; 2 Tim. 1:13-14; 2:2; 4:2-3; Titus 1:9-16) and we participate in corporate worship and the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (see Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 5:4; 11:17-18, 20, 33-34; 14:19, 23, 26, 28, 35; 16:2; Heb. 10:25). But one does not typically find community or enter into deeper and more meaningful personal relationships with other Christians simply by attending church on a Sunday.
This dimension of body life can only be experienced in the context of smaller gatherings during the week. These are what we call community groups and they gather regularly throughout Oklahoma City and the surrounding area. Some of them meet weekly, while others meet every other week. A few only meet once a month. Other churches may call these gatherings “life groups” or “small groups” or “missional communities.” They are the Church, meeting in homes, where Christ is exalted, life is shared, spiritual growth is facilitated, mission is pursued, and community is cultivated in the power of the Holy Spirit with others who know and love Jesus. These groups are not in and of themselves local churches, for in that case they would each require a plurality of elders providing governmental oversight and the authority to exercise discipline among its members (see Acts 14:23; 20:17, 28-29; Phil. 1:1; Titus 1:5). They are, instead, smaller embodiments or missional expressions of the one local church body known as Bridgeway.
Our community groups are the frontline of pastoral care at Bridgeway. In other words, they are the primary place where the individual members of our body are known, fed, led, and protected by trained leaders, who themselves are consistently known, fed, led, and protected by coaches, who themselves are consistently coached by the elders of Bridgeway. This means that if someone is committed to growing in the context of a community group—even though they have found themselves in a very large church—they are never more than three steps removed from the elders of Bridgeway.
In addition to our community groups, which ideally range in size from ten to twenty, we strongly encourage all our people to be involved in a discipleship group, or “d-group.” These are typically formed out of the members of any one community group and ideally consist of from three to four people of the same gender who meet regularly for accountability, encouragement, and prayer. A standard rhythm (although we encourage whatever flexibility is suitable to your schedule) is for a community group to meet once every two weeks and for the d-groups to meet in the intervening weeks. Being involved in both a community group and a d-group enables you to experience both the spiritual dynamics of a larger community of believers as well as the benefits that come from a more personal and relational engagement with a handful of Christians. Community groups are primarily for community, and d-groups are primarily for discipleship—though both flow into each other significantly.
And all of this is to prepare us to move out on mission infused with gospel intentionality,
where we seek to not only share the gospel message with people far from God, but also build meaningful relationships with them, as well as introduce them to Christian community, so that the community formed by the gospel can work powerfully in concert with the message of the gospel. In this way, the gospel message is magnified as people far from God are able to consistently observe Christians loving Christians.
We believe that community groups flourish best when allowed to emerge and develop according to the unique gifting and interests of those involved. But regardless of the special emphasis that you may pursue, we strongly encourage all our community groups to make room for each of our four primary values: worship, discipleship, community, and mission. It may be that your group has a special calling for intercessory prayer. Another group may feel led of God to reach out to a particular neighborhood or school. Yet another may find their principal focus in the study of God’s Word or perhaps the needs that many marriages are facing in these distressing times. We encourage you to find a group that will enable you both to grow in your relationship with Christ and other Christians as well to minister in the exercise of your spiritual gifts. The elders and pastoral staff are here to help in any way we can to assist you in reaching your goals.