“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
“I think that’s such an important word, ‘relationships.’ I don’t think there’s a more important word for the Midweek LIFE Groups. You’re building relationships,” notes Greg Solomon, a Parkside member and Midweek LIFE Group participant.
His wife, Patty, agrees, “God doesn’t want us to do this walk alone. We’re supposed to be building and growing.”
The Solomons, along with their two children, Madison, 5, and Isaac, 3, first joined a Midweek LIFE Group in 2011 when Parkside connected some young families together to help with childcare. When their first midweek group had to change locations, the Solomons found themselves looking for another group that met closer to their home. After going online to Parkside’s website, the Solomons found another group. While it may seem like a daunting task to walk into an established group of friends, the Solomons were welcomed with open arms.
“We always talk about Parkside being so big, but when we walked into this new LIFE group, I already knew three or four of the men in the group just from attending church and it was just so welcoming,” recalls Greg.
Patty adds, “And there were four of the children who were in the same Sunday school class. We didn’t know them before because there isn’t always time to say hello at pick-up and drop-off. It was neat to see another connection there.”
As an active family of four, the Solomons are grateful for the childcare that is provided. “We weren’t able to join a LIFE group before because finding babysitters on a regular basis is a challenge,” notes Patty. “In our group, [one of our study leaders] Brad Philips arranges for babysitting, and as a group we all pitch into the kitty to cover the expense. The kitty is just a pay-as-you-want thing, there’s no required amount. It’s nice because we have the same sitters that come back each time. The kids go in the basement and adults get to do their study.”
At a typical meeting, this particular LIFE Group, led by Brad Philips and Brad Wilk, will start out with an ice-breaker so that the group can get to know one another. Next, the group prays and then the leaders read through questions from a study guide. “Brad and Brad will just ask what your thoughts are and we’ll go into a conversation. They’re really good about not singling any one person out. So if you’re new, you don’t have to worry that you’re going to be singled out,” notes Patty. “And they are really good about encouraging people to come even if you haven’t done the study because you can still get something out of it from somebody else. You should do the questions and the study, but people travel and life happens, so somebody just coming in could still participate because we ask the questions as a group.”
In addition to their Midweek LIFE Group, Patty and Greg also participate in the Women’s and Men’s Bible Studies which gives them the opportunity to grow spiritually as individuals. However, they have seen great benefit from the Midweek LIFE Group because they study as a couple. “As couples with kids, you don’t get a lot of alone time together. Because we did the study together after the kids went to bed, we got that alone time. And you have an accountability partner, too,” notes Patty. “But you know, we didn’t understand that until we started doing it. I never thought about the benefit to us as a couple until we got into the LIFE group and we were like, ‘Well, this is cool, we’re actually doing it together.’”
Another benefit the Solomons enjoy is the evening out since Midweek Life Groups meet twice a month. “It’s kind of a night out sometimes,” says Patty. “The kids are doing their thing, we get to fellowship with each other, and even if it’s just for an hour, I’ll take it,” laughs Patty.
Greg recalls the support their group gave to one of the couples who dealt with some serious health challenges. “I thought it was just amazing how the LIFE group engulfed that family. The men met together with the husband when he could take a break from the hospital, and the women did the same thing. I think that’s really powerful. To know that you can break it down into those small groups where you can study the Bible, and I think importantly, have that Christian support system.”
“If anybody is thinking about joining a Midweek LIFE Group, I would say go once and you won’t be able to stop. At least, that’s the way it was for us,” says Greg. “The first time was challenging only because of our own perceptions. But once you go into an environment of other Christians, you can just feel the warmth. Going back is easy.”
Parkside’s vision for Building into the Next Generation is about relationships: being in a growing personal relationship with Jesus Christ; being built up in Christ, through relationships with other believers; being active in promoting the gospel with unbelievers through relationships. If you would like to build your relationships by connecting with a Midweek LIFE Group, please visit our website to find a group that meets in your area. Groups will start meeting during the first week of September and will be studying the book of 1 John.