In Matthew 28:19-20, we read these words, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” In this verse, Jesus emphasizes the need to take the Gospel to those who do not know Him in order that they may become His disciples and follow Him. He also stresses that people need to grow and mature in their faith.
Gospel Groups at Rocky Creek are one way to help people move through the discipleship process. People can hear the Gospel and experience salvation, grow in their understanding of the Gospel by digging into Godʼs Word each week, and go with the Gospel to impact our community. There are six values Rocky Creek believes to be important for all Gospel Groups: authority (using Godʼs Word as the guide), maturity (growing in faith as leaders and members), authenticity (creating a safe environment to be real), accountability (keeping each other on the right path), availability (being accessible beyond the gathering), and reproducibility (growing to multiply groups).
To illustrate how vital Gospel Groups are, letʼs take a look at the Cullip Gospel Group. Aaron Cullip put his faith and trust in Christ in July 2012. He understood that he was a sinner and that his only hope was the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He started attending Rocky Creek in December 2012 along with his wife Kerri and their children. In July of 2016, Aaron started leading an adult Gospel Group at Rocky Creek.
In the Cullip Group, as well as in all RC Gospel Group, Godʼs Word is the guide (authority). We use the Gospel Project curriculum to keep all groups from preschool to senior adults on the same passage of Scripture each week. Aaron and his wife Kerri are studying the same Scripture as their “student” Colsen, “child” Gabby, and “preschooler” Adyson. Covering the same passage provides opportunities to have additional conversations about the passage in homes throughout the week.
Aaron is not the same person he was when he first came to Rocky Creek. Over the last eight years, he has grown in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Leaders and groups members growing in their faith (maturity) is a key distinguishing characteristic of our Gospel Groups. We expect to see growth and change in our Gospel Group members.
The Cullip Group currently meets on campus at 10:30AM each Sunday. During the pandemic, they stayed connected through Zoom meetings. Though members of this group are at different stages of life, they have created healthy relationships and a safe environment where they can honestly share personal struggles (authenticity) and victories through one- on-one ministry (accountability) beyond the gathering (availability).
The members of the Cullip group have chosen to get to know each other on a deeper level by building community. They assign month-long partnerships with other members in the group. Each guy is assigned to another guy and each lady is assigned to another lady with whom they are expected to connect with during the month by scheduling a meal together, getting coffee, talking on the phone, or hanging out after the group meeting. In addition to the one-on-one monthly meetings, Aaron meets once a month with the men in his group usually over coffee on a Saturday morning. During COVID, they moved their meetings online. They discuss walking with Jesus, how they are doing at being a husband and father, and share prayer requests. Once a quarter, the group gathers for a fun activity such as a cookout or a recreational activity. These events help bring the group together to apply the biblical teachings to their lives and to establish the idea that they are “doing life together.”
With this intentionality to build community over the course of time, the Gospel Group grew in number. In September 2020, one group became two as they were able to multiply their efforts (reproducibility). Aaron and several couples stayed together as a group while Ed and Kori Adkins along with Todd and Melody DeBellis took some other couples and formed a second group. Ed now leads the second group as the teacher while Todd and Melody assist him, connecting people and building community outside of the Sunday morning time. The two groups took what they had experienced in their Gospel Group and are now reproducing the process to make more disciples as this opportunity opened up spots for new people to join.
The Cullip Group is practicing the principles and commands of Matthew 28. God is working through this group to build His kingdom. As this group and other Gospel Groups continue to be used by God, He will be faithful to produce much fruit and many more disciples will be made at Rocky Creek.