Living free with “Living Free”

Living free with “Living Free”

A seminar to help with life-controlling issues

by Eric A Thomas

One Jacksonville church hopes that they can help lighten the load in the Christian walk. Go Church will be presenting a day seminar to give attendees the proper tools to become small group facilitators or support for the leadership staff at their own churches.

People struggle with a variety of issues, and some find strength at church. The struggles with behaviors, attitudes, emotions, relationship issues, life-controlling behaviors and problems with substances in the secular world are sometimes helped stepping inside the structure of the Christian life within a church. More and more churches are establishing small groups that deal with these issues. One organization that is working to lay the groundwork at houses of worship is Living Free, a nonprofit that will be the framework for this seminar. Go Church is establishing this program but want others in the community to come and learn how they can bring it to their own congregations.

The seminar will take place Saturday, July 31, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., with doors opening at 8:15 a.m. The location will be at Go Church, 767 S. West St. in Jacksonville. The seminar will be led by Jeff Arp from Living Free and hosted by Pastor Brian and Amy Hart from Go Church. The cost will be $25 per person, which will cover books, snacks, lunch and a completion certificate.

After the initial Living Free training, people are encouraged to take the information back to their own churches and establish what is known as “insight groups.” These groups are a natural extension of the initial training. “The insight group is a relational and non-labeling group that is relevant to the challenges we all face,” states Pastor Brian Hart. “Some churches choose to offer these groups during the week, on Saturdays or even on Sunday during Sunday school times.”

The purpose of these groups is to introduce everyone to the concept of life controlling issues. There can be advanced groups that deal specifically with certain issues such as understanding depression or anger. Also, Living Well provides a faith-based version of Alcoholics Anonymous, which is specific for substance abuse, and is called Stepping into Freedom.

Hart says that Living Free is an effective tool to bring to the community. “We are hoping that other churches get involved, but we plan on holding these meetings at various locations throughout the city once we fully establish the program,” Hart adds. The desire of the hosts is that group facilitators will be well-informed leading them to promote this program to others.

Hart has seen the power firsthand that this format from Living Free can bring to groups through his association with the Adult and Teen Challenge organization. “These groups can help lift the pastors load, and help with congregants’ spiritual needs … some people, while maybe hesitant at first, find comfort and encouragement when they realize that others face the same issues and hurdles they face,” he states. One-on-one can still be what a person is looking for, but this group alternative has proven successful for those who have offered it.

The seminar is open to everyone – regardless of religion or lack of religion. The group leaders instruct with a faith-based approach and philosophy of solution. Beyond the seminar there is ongoing training and support for leaders through Living Free. “Each person who attends will come away from the training with a deeper understanding of the Living Free program,” Hart concludes.

There will also be opportunities for people to get involved beyond the July 31 training. Those with questions or who wish to attend are encouraged to contact Pastor Brian Hart at 515-422-8808 or Registration deadline is July 30.

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