Renewal Community Groups
A Multi-Site Strategy: One Church, One Mission, Multiple Locations
Community Groups are the primary means through which Renewal Church gathers to live out the gospel and mature together in its truth (gospel community) and to spread the gospel incarnationally through word and deed (gospel mission). Gathering weekly throughout our region for fellowship and accountability, Bible study and prayer, shared laughter and tears, Community Groups are a central expression of our church’s vision to see lives and our region transformed for Jesus. The goal is to cultivate a devoted community of believers who worship Jesus, love one another, and together serve those in need of the hope of the gospel.
Why are Community Groups so important to Renewal?
Getting connected at Renewal means participating in both the Sunday worship gathering and a Community Group. Sundays are a time for celebrating in worship of Jesus and receiving the preaching of the Word and sacraments together as one body. Community Groups are the primary context where the seeds of the preached Word take root, get nurtured, and bear fruit. It is the place where we build authentic spiritual relationships with one another, share life together, and live out the gospel. Also, it is within these groups within the neighborhoods of our region that we can participate in God’s mission to incarnate the gospel to our broken world.
Why are small groups now called "Community Groups"?
We feel the term “community group” more intentionally and helpfully expresses the purpose of these gatherings. We mean two things by the word “community.” First, we desire to see true Christ-centered community fleshed out in these groups, as our people love, care for, and challenge one another (gospel community). Second, our aim is for these groups to engage, love, and serve the surrounding local community in which they meet (gospel mission).
Where will Renewal Community Groups be located?
In order to tie our community groups to particular sections of our Philadelphia area, we are formally organizing our community groups into parishes (defined areas of congregational care). A parish will have a cluster of community groups. In doing this, we are encouraging our people to tie themselves to a particular parish. As of Fall 2009, Renewal has been organized into four parishes: West Philly, Center City, City Ave, and Suburbs (north and west of Philadelphia).
How do Community Groups, Parishes, and Campuses work?
We are one people that meet in the greater Philadelphia area at two different local congregations called campuses (the West Philly campus and the Devon campus). Our desire for each person that calls Renewal home is that they would connect with a specific campus. We want you to identify with the mission of a particular campus where you would worship, serve, and participate in community in that particular context. For most, that will coincide with where you live and the campus that is the closest. We discourage people from attending the worship service of one campus and participating in a community group of another as that disconnects your weekly relational community and mission from your Sunday worshipping community. We see an unnatural separation of one’s spiritual life in doing so. As we launched two campuses, membership at Renewal entails commitment to a particular campus in its worship, mission, and community. Therefore, we encourage you to consider where God is calling you to participate in the mission of a specific campus and plant roots there in worship attendance, service and community group life.
Each parish will be tied to a particular campus. The three parishes in the city (West Philly, Center City, City Ave) belong to the Renewal West Philly campus. The Suburbs parish belongs to our Devon campus. Therefore, we ask you first to think about which Renewal parish in our Philadelphia region is the best locale where you can live out the gospel in community and mission. If you believe you are called to join one of our parishes in the city (West Philly, Center City, City Ave), then we ask you to commit to the West Philly campus as we seek to love and serve our city. If you believe you can best serve in our growing Suburban parish (Suburbs north and west of the city), we ask you to commit to the Devon campus. For college students, Renewal College Fellowship is split into the two campuses, and we ask you to join a community group on your particular campus.
How should I choose which campus to commit to?
Again, we first encourage you prayerfully to consider which parish you see yourself most faithfully and effectively participating in a lifestyle of gospel community and mission. This would then determine which campus you should commit to in its worship and community group ministry. For most, this will be the campus nearest where you live. We believe Christians can be most effective when the whole of their lives are as integrated as possible: their home, their work, their network of relationships (including unbelieving friends, co-workers, classmates, and neighbors), and their church life.