PARISH LIFE FAQ
Can you clarify the difference the following words / phrases: Parish Life, Parish, Parish Area and Parish Group?
Parish Life - the umbrella term that describes Third’s comprehensive Parish ministry. In the past we’ve been using phrases like Parish Model or Parish Ministry in the past. We are no longer using that nomenclature and will refer to all things Parish-related as Parish Life.
Parish Area - We’ve designated twelve geographic localities across metro Richmond to better serve our larger church family.. These smaller communities, called parish areas, will insure that each person in our church can be known more intentionally and intimately because our elders and deacons will be organized to serve these smaller parish areas. This means that the tangible care and shepherding they provide will be locally focused in the same neighborhoods where they live.
Parish Areas consist of 75-150 people who live in a common area in the metro Richmond area. Third Church is one congregation made up of twelve Parish Areas:
- City East
- City North
- City South
- River West
- Three Chopt
Parish - synonymous with Parish Area. We encourage you to use the term Parish Area.
Parish Group - a community of people seeking to follow Jesus together and extend his mission in a specific place. Parish Groups offer a social environment in which men, women and children can grow as disciples of Jesus, deepen relationships, and participate in God’s mission to renew all things. Parish Groups meet in individual host homes within a Parish Area. In most Parish Areas, there will be one or more Parish Groups depending on size, leaders available, etc. Parish groups are:
- Voluntary: You are not required to attend a Parish Group! Though our hope is that every person at Third is involved in the Parish Group in their area.
- Open: Parish Groups do not hit a certain attendance and then become closed. They are always open, and if they start to become too big to fit in one home, it is time to start a new group!
- Intergenerational: The vision for Parish Groups is to include young and old together in worship and community.
- Consist, typically, of 15-20 adults plus children (or as many people fit in a house!)
- Meet three times a month
- Follow an Up / In / Out rhythm: Each week the group focuses on a different dimension of discipleship: Up - deepening our relationship with God, In - deepening our relationship with one another in community, and Out - deepening our care for our neighborhood through loving and serving our neighbors.
What does leadership within a Parish Area and Parish Group look like?
Shepherding Elders and Deacons. Shepherding Elders primarily exist to serve church members in their Parish Area who are not participating in Parish Groups. They are ordained positions and their responsibilities are extensive. They meet once per month with the other Shepherding Elders and Deacons in their Parish.
Parish Group Core Leaders. Every Parish Group should have at least 2 Core Leaders. Core Leaders are the primary vision holders for the Parish Group. They are spiritual leaders who are comfortable exercising humble leadership among their peers. Core Leaders share the responsibility for leading their Parish Group with 3-4 Support Leaders. We are committed to regular development and support of Core Leaders. They will have the chance to grow in areas such as teaching scripture, building community, discipleship, spiritual formation, evangelism, neighboring and spiritual leadership. They will also learn how to invite Parish Group members to participate and grow in these areas as well.
Parish Group Support Leaders. Support Leaders assist the Core Leaders of a Parish Group with the executions of weekly administrative and other leadership tasks. These tasks range from organizing food, child care to communication, prayer or even worship. These tasks are no less important than those of a Core Leader, but less demanding in terms of time commitment. Support Leaders are required to regularly attend Parish Group and any planning meetings deemed necessary by Core Leaders.
Do I have to leave my existing small group, men's group, etc. in order to participate in Parish Groups?
The short answer is no. However, the reality is that Parish Life will be how most of our community, mission and discipleship will happen as a church. We would like you to consider to bring your group to your Parish Group or encourage them to theirs. Moving forward all covenant members and regular attenders will be encouraged to join a parish group.
I don’t want to join my Parish area group, I want to be in a different one. What can I do?
We strongly encourage people to participate in groups located within their Parish Area. We would love to hear any concerns prior to joining a different group so we can provide the best Parish Group experience for everyone involved. Derek can be reached by email or 434-242-8237.