What is a Lighthouse Group?
We call our small groups Lighthouses. A Lighthouse is a home fellowship made up of 10-16 people who meet weekly to share, study and support one another. A trained leader and host lead each group. An average meeting lasts for an hour and a half, followed by light refreshments.
How Important Are Lighthouses?
Here at First Family Church, Lighthouses are the hub of our ministry. They're the place where the real ministry of the church takes place as we study God's Word, while supporting and sharing our lives with one another. We believe that meeting together on a regular basis is time well spent. Our goal each year is to have at least 80% of our adults involved on a weekly basis. It's a mark we've been able to hit every year since we began Lighthouses in 2005.
When and Where Do They Meet?
Lighthouses meet on various nights of the week in homes throughout Central Iowa.
How Long Do They Last?
Each Lighthouse session lasts 9 to 11 weeks. We have Fall, Winter & Spring sessions. At the end of each session, you will have the choice of staying in the same group, trying a new group or even taking a break. Most groups stay together throughout the entire year. Lighthouses do not meet June through August.
What is the Required Commitment?
Joining a Lighthouse requires a 9 to 11 week commitment to attend weekly meetings and do the homework ahead of time. Obviously, allowances are made for sickness, vacation, work conflicts and other special events, but not much more. This commitment is the key to a strong Lighthouse. You have the first three weeks to attend the group to make sure it's a good fit for you.
What Will We Study?
Most of the studies are based on the previous weekend's message. Lighthouses are built on what we call a "Lecture-Lab" model. Imagine the weekend message as a lecture on Christian living based on the Word of God, and the Lighthouse as a lab where you get to roll up your sleeves and discuss how the weekend's message works in real life. Each week there will be a series of Bible passages and questions on the back of the sermon note sheet to study before the meeting. It will usually take 20 to 40 minutes per week to complete the homework.
What Does It Cost?
Few things in life are free and Lighthouses are no exception! The cost of Lighthouses is the cost of commitment. During the first meeting, each group will complete a "covenant" together. This simple form helps each group discuss their priorities and commitment. Part of that commitment is the promise to attend each week and to complete the homework as well as to attend the quarterly social and do one service project for the year. You have the first three weeks to decide if your group is a good fit for you.
When you join a Lighthouse, you're promising to attend and be prepared each week. It's this commitment that makes Lighthouses work. We realize it's a big commitment, but it only lasts for 9 – 11 weeks. At the end of each quarter, you have the choice of recommitting for another quarter, trying a new group, or taking a break from Lighthouses altogether.
What About Child Care?
Lighthouses are for adults only. (Exceptions can be made for nursing newborns, up to six months.) We leave it up to each Lighthouse to work out their own child care. Many Lighthouses hire a college student to watch the kids in another portion of the home during the Lighthouse session. Those with kids share the cost of this. Sometimes it works best for families to share a sitter or to swap child care with another family whose Lighthouse meets on a different evening.
How Do I Choose A Group?
When selecting a group, we strongly recommend you choose a group based on its leader-host team an station-in-life, rather than its location. Over the years, we've found that groups do best when members share a common Station-in-Life and other interests with their leaders, hosts, and other group members. In the end, you'll find it's worth the drive!
Our groups are divided in the following Station-in-Life groupings: Singles, Young Marrieds, Young Families, Parents of Children K-6, Parents of Teens, Empty Nest, Senior Adults, Young Professionals, College, Inter-generational groups (General), etc. Remember, these Station-in-Life groupings are intentionally kept fuzzy and are meant to help you self-select an appropriate group for you. They are not intended to box you in.
If you have any questions (especially if you are new to First Family Church), please don't hesitate to call the church, and we will gladly assist you. Keep in mind that it might take two or three groups before you find the perfect fit, but don't worry, you'll find it!
How Do I Sign Up For A Lighthouse?
Before each Lighthouse quarter begins there are three ways to sign up for a group – online, at our weekend services, or by calling the church office during the week before each of our Lighthouse Sessions. During the weekend services, Lighthouse leaders are available at the sign-up booths to help you choose a group and answer any questions. Brochures are available at the booths with general information about each Station in Life, and the weekend worship folder contain a "Quick Guide" to available Lighthouses. There are three sign-up weekends before the beginning of our Fall Quarter in September, and two sign-up weekends before our Winter Quarter in January and our Spring Quarter in April.
We also offer "Newcomers Lighthouses" which run for 2 weeks and begin about every six weeks throughout the year. These groups are designed for people new to First Family who would like to find out more about our church and to experience what a Lighthouse is like. You can call the church office at any time to sign up for the next Newcomers Lighthouse or answer any questions, or visit our Newcomers page.
Are There Lighthouses for Teenagers?
Yes, our High School and Jr. High ministries both offer small groups for students. Our High School ministry offers small groups available for freshman through seniors. The Junior High ministry offers small groups available for 7th and 8th grade students. Although these groups are not included on this website, they are very important to our church. For more information about Middle School or High School groups, please contact our Student Ministry Office at 515-965-8300, or email our Youth Pastor, Travis Walker.