Instructions for CLF Fellowship Leaders

How to Start and Lead a Fellowship

We realize our fellowship leaders need a framework to help start and lead a Christ-life fellowship. While we want fellowships to grow organically according to the direction of the Holy Spirit, a framework helps new and seasoned leaders organize and serve their group to encourage growth in both the group and its individual members. If you have questions, you are welcome to ask us using our Contact form..

1. Closed & Open Groups

a. Groups are defined, and will differ, according to cultural boundaries. American fellowships will be very different from international groups. Groups in the Middle East and non-western cultures will need to exercise their own restrictions and safety guidelines according to their circumstance, customs, and laws. Gender roles, marital status, religious speech laws, group size restrictions, acceptable meeting locations are a few of the controlling issues that need to be considered according to the country, region, political constraints, and such. CLF leadership must remain respectful and lawful and deliver this precious message in peace and love.

b. For security purposes, we advise in-home groups be "Closed Groups" and only include well-known and trusted friends.

c. We recommend “Open Groups” be in public or neutral locations (not in a home) where new-comers/strangers can be safely welcomed.

i. Open groups require arranging for a meeting room in a public space (such as in restaurants, cafés, hotels, community centers, or conference centers, etc.) and may incur extra expenses for the room rental. Some restaurants will provide a free meeting room with the understanding that the group will buy food & drinks. Leaders are encouraged to speak to managers about such arrangements.

ii. The leader of an open group can choose to be publicly posted as a CLF fellowship on our website, and can open the group to receive visitor referrals from CLF. We post fellowships with the understanding they are only using Christ-life teaching materials and are not commingling teachings from other ministries.

d. Everyone needs to learn the Christ-life message by starting with the very important basics first. As your fellowship grows, you will have new members join while the group is in the middle of more advanced teaching material. Newcomers likely are completely unfamiliar with the Christ-life message and need to start at the beginning. Therefore, we offer two alternatives to choose from:

1. Everyone can meet at the same time, starting with a “large group” time when everyone meets for music and testimonies, followed by splitting off into “small, closed groups.” Closed Bible study groups can group people together by learning levels to focus on a specific unit of instruction for a short period of time (Example: 6, 8, or 10 weeks to study one set of the Fundamentals).

2. Different groups can meet at different times (Example: Mondays and Wednesdays) according to their learning level or chosen teaching material.

This ensures everyone starts a teaching series together and progresses together, preventing people from jumping in mid-stream, in the middle of a teaching series or book.

e. Fellowships should meet often enough to keep people connected and engaged with the teaching as well as forming social bonds with each other. Groups meet weekly, bi-weekly, or, at the minimum, monthly. The schedule of a fellowship should be consistent, well-communicated, and planned out to fit life's seasons, taking into account holidays, people’s lives, and family time. Some meet weekly without interruption as regular "church" time. A focused Bible study may be offered for a term, followed by a short break before the next study. Time off may be needed during holidays or vacation times and resumed for the next focused study period.

2. Teaching Material

a. CLF provides a very large online library of teaching materials covering a broad list of topics. Find the Christ-life Library at www.grace-media.net/fellowship-library. Books can be ordered through the Christ-life store or, if you are outside North America, contact your regional CLF representative to order. (International CLF reps listed here.)

b. All Bible students should start with basic concepts first so they will correctly understand advanced lessons. New fellowships can start by learning the Precepts' Fundamentals of the Christ-life Bible study series. Fellowships should provide new-comers a fresh start of the Fundamentals in a separate group/meeting from time to time. All new-comers need to learn the basic concepts to understand other CLF teaching. Without first learning important concepts (such as the birthing, dividing soul and spirit, God's plan and purpose, and rightly dividing the Scriptures), students will misunderstand more advanced CL lessons. We teach from the English King James Bible (based on the Textus Receptus New Testament). Modern bible versions significantly change text and meanings. 

c. All CLF materials are copyrighted and may not be copied, translated, published, or distributed aside from the CLF offices and store. We require our leaders read, honor, and ensure the groups honor our copyright and translation policy at www.christ-life.org/copyrights. If you have questions or see a problem, please contact us using the Contact form.

d. Bible studies should start either with The Fundamentals series workbooks 1 & 2 (The Joy of Knowing Who I Am and The In-Christ Position) or with the “Precept Upon Precept Fundamental Series” videos or audios, followed by the Precepts’ “Living Christ Series.” Group discussion is encouraged as part of the lessons. Leaders should keep discussions on topic of the current teaching and redirect to avoid off-topic discussion and debate of doctrine or extraneous issues. Many questions will be answered later as the teaching progresses. We urge people to put their theological issues/questions “on a shelf” in their minds. The Holy Spirit will address it in His time. If an issue becomes a stumbling block, reach out to the Christ-life office through the Contact form for guidance.

e. Beyond the Precepts series, groups can watch/listen to other Christ-life Fellowship teachings or work through CLF books, such as the Precepts workbooks; "Paul, The Apostle of Grace"; or "The Making of a Son." 

f. We discourage question & answer time in meetings as these often lead to off-topic and doctrine debate and group leaders are fellow students learning along-side the group rather than teachers. Again, most answers will come at the appropriate time during the teaching.

g. The Christ-life message stands alone. It will clean out wrong doctrines and and clarify confusing theological misconceptions. The Christ-life transforms the way students understand the Christian life and gives the roadmap for living in Christ. Because its Scriptural foundationChrist in you and you in Christis completely different from man-made doctrines, the in-Christ message cannot be added to, does not fit with, other teachings, doctrines, or religions.

To guard against commingling and confusion, we ask that all Christ-life fellowships stick to Christ-life Fellowship teaching materials alone and refrain from adding other teaching materials to their studies. Other teachings do not know our most basic and necessary concepts, such as dividing soul and spirit, the birthing, rightly dividing Scriptures, and terminology definitions. These differences would only confuse Bible students. Christ-life Fellowship's very large library, with a broad range of topics, will start with basic concepts and build upon them to develop a fuller theological understanding which will allow the student to continue to learn and grow in their own Bible studies as the Holy Spirit leads. 

3. Leader’s Role

a. Fellowship leaders are meeting facilitators, dispensing the in-Christ message. They coordinate and track meetings and activities, and make the message materials available to the group. This is different from acting as a teacher.

b. Fellowship leaders need to have an advanced grasp of the Christ-life message, but do not need to feel they must “have all the answers” before they can lead a group. Leaders are co-learners with the other members.

c. Leaders need to be ready to receive/welcome new-comers, while being watchful for “wolves, foxes, and snakes.” We want to encourage group growth while protecting our people from scammers, opportunists, and people who would pollute this gospel or collect members’ information for their own purposes/gain.

i. Leaders should not give money, but offer prayer and encouragement. Requests for monetary or material support can be referred to CLF offices.

ii. People (new-comers, members) may not collect emails, contact information, nor build a directory, list, or database of members. Leaders will need a list with contact information to communicate with members, but must respect their privacy and not share information.

iii. Leaders need to disregard long-distant contacts or requests for help. The leader's role is facilitating the message in his/her own area.

iv. Promoting other churches, denominations, ministries, study groups, or materials in this setting is inappropriate. People attending these meetings should come with genuine interest and an open, hungry heart for this message, without skewing, twisting, or heckling these teachings.

d. Accountability

i. Leader should keep a list of contact information of their group members to communicate meeting information, as well as CLF updates and news.

ii. Communicate periodically with the Dallas office regarding progress, group activity, needs, prayer requests, and testimonies.

e. Leader will be responsible for securing and protecting all CLF materials. CLF materials may not be copied. All leaders must read, honor, and uphold among their groups our copyright and translation rules at www.christ-life.org/copyrights.

f. Personal Space & Physical Boundaries: Leaders should be alert and watchful of inappropriate contact between individuals. Some may be too forward while others may be intimidated or reluctant to protect their own personal space. Leaders should see where they may need to respectfully step in to avoid or protect members from too-friendly contact. Shaking hands is appropriate contact.

4. Time Factors

a. Meetings need to be scheduled with both beginning and ending times, and leaders need to politely enforce both out of respect for people’s schedules and needs. Meetings should not be open-ended. Meetings can be one hour or two hours long, two hours being a maximum length for both the teaching and discussion. Two and a half hours being a maximum for meetings that include meals. Leaders can choose whether to include music and worship as they feel fits their group. Learning God’s Word would naturally produce a heart full of worship and thanksgiving, in a natural, organic manner rather than a structured, rote method. Worship or praise music can set the mood as people arrive.

5. Providing Food

a. Food is an option. Some people find it makes attendance more convenient when they do not need to fit their meals around the meeting time. Food arrangements should be kept simple, easy, and require minimal work and time, so as to not distract from the real purpose of the meeting: Bible study. Options can include coffee/tea/water and light snacks such as crackers/cookies/pastries, a potluck where everyone brings a dish for the group, or each can provide / buy their own food. Food should not burden the fellowship’s expenses, which should be kept minimal and shared by group members.

6. Social Needs

a. The fellowship is more than just Bible studies. Social time needs to be a part of the fellowship schedule to allow friendships to grow and bonding between individuals and families. Periodic social gatherings, aside from Bible study classes, help members build a healthy support group of like-minded Christians where members can “do life together,” can celebrate together, and can share needs and concerns together. Christians need support and encouragement by other members of the Body of Christ who know the in-Christ message and can speak this truth into each other’s lives as they go through life’s peaks and valleys together.

b. The leader needs to also let needs be made known as a way of allowing others to share the burden and also to set the example for the members to be able to open up and let their own needs to be known. This should be without a sense of bringing guilt or obligation to others, but to gently state the needs and to encourage others to allow Christ inside to respond as He moves them.

7. Offering

a. An offering basket can be set out and giving should be encouraged for support of the local fellowship and also for the CLF ministry and its missions. Members need to know they are part of something bigger than themselves and that they have a purpose; they are invested and pouring into bringing this vibrant message to hungry hearts as Christ leads them. Christ inside is a giver and is about the Father's business. He is always for others.

b. Donations should not be marked with specific designations as they go to a general fund. Comments can be attached on a separate piece of paper.

c. Offering will be used to cover the local fellowship’s minimal expenses (Leader's resources, room costs, drinks/snacks, etc.), then the rest will be sent to CLF headquarters in Dallas to support the ministry.

8. Attendance

a. Frequent attendance is important to keep people engaged in learning and in relationships. Progress in learning and friendly support can be stimulating and motivating. The focused Bible studies need to be approached with commitment to complete the lessons, whether in an 8-week session in the Fundamentals or completing a CLF book.