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Our Model.
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Our transformation model consists of three levels. We use a three level model for our small groups because we believe that God’s process of transformation takes time. Therefore, our model is designed to provide long term truth, instruction, guidance, encouragement, support, and spiritual and emotional growth (all in a healthy environment). We provide long term programs to meet the needs of long term emotional issues. Plus, we want to empower people to experience a transformation for their entire life, not just help them deal with their current issues.

H.O.P.E. groups generally meet once a week for one and a half to two hours. Regardless of which level a member is in, that time is roughly divided in half between the lesson and Checking In (a time for members to share what he or she is going through and how they feel about it).

The following provides an overview of each level of our model.

1. Level 1: This level used the Doorway to H.O.P.E. book and is the entry point into our model. This group is always “open” for new members, so it allows us to have a group that someone can join on any given day. The lessons are team-taught and presented in a classroom setting. Our members then divide into smaller groups of 6-8 people for Checking In. Each smaller group includes a ministry leader.

In addition to having a group that is always “open” for new members, we have found two more reasons why there is a need for this group. First, many people who come to us are not ready to commit to a program like ours because they are not ready to ask for help and fully surrender their issues and needs to the Lord. Statistics show that most people who come to a program like this require at least six weeks attendance before they decide to work on changing their life. We have actually seen this period take longer, so we created a 12 week “warm up” period in this level. At the completion of each Level 1 program, we simply repeat it for the next group of new members.

This level is designed to resurrect hope, expose needs and lies, tear down barriers to making healthy changes and “wet appetites” for experiencing how God can transform us through our pain, which can be acted upon by entering a Level 2 small group.

2. Level 2: These small groups are “closed” and comprised of members who have completed Level 1. Often these groups have already developed from among the members of the smaller groups used for Checking In during Level 1. Following this format, we have witnessed stronger bonds created and a greater level of acceptance within the group members. We also believe that using small groups allows for more individual and personal attention during the Checking In time.

These groups follow the book, Names of H.O.P.E. which is a more comprehensive Bible study focused on God’s principles and purpose for pain using Names of God that meet the needs of people encountering painful experiences. The level can take nine months or more to complete. The lessons in this level are presented by the group leader in the small group.

3. Level 3: These groups also follow a small group format, but are more flexible. The purpose of these groups is to capitalize on the small group momentum already generated in Level 2 and enable long-term involvement in God’s process of transformation. They are more topic-specific and provide further support and teaching in areas of need that arise in the Level 2 groups. Example topics in Level 3 groups include:

a. Evangelism
b. Telling your story
c. Spiritual formation and growth
d. Spiritual gifts and service
e. Visioneering (a book and concept created by Pastor Andy Stanley) and other similar studies
    designed to encourage, equip and empower members to pursue and live the vision/dream
    God has given them
f. Studies focused on particular topics/areas of need

Regardless of the topic, all the groups in Level 3 are designed to provide continuing opportunities for spiritual growth and long-term involvement in God’s process of transformation. Depending on the group, we either use purchased materials or materials that we have written.

The transforming power of our groups can be clearly seen when one considers the various levels that any small group can reach. There are five levels of small groups that have been described. The five levels are:

1. Cliché – superficial, patented, non-personal, rehearsed responses.
2. Ideas and Facts – sharing of personal statistics and information.
3. Ideas and Opinions – sharing becomes more honest and more personal to include ideas and     opinions.
4. Feelings – honest sharing of feelings.
5. Peak – honest sharing of insights, members are teachable, they invite input and they receive     feedback well, there is full trust of others and things are done and said with the appropriate attitude     and motives within a loving, truthful and honest community.

In a typical small group setting, it takes 9-18 months to attain the level of Feelings and 18-24 months to achieve the level of Peak. But we have consistently experienced that our H.O.P.E. small groups can start at the Feelings level and arrive at the Peak level in only a few weeks. Therefore, our model for small groups enables our members to fully experience the wonderful transforming power of the H.O.P.E. program.

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