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Growing in faith and fellowship

At Lamb of God, Phoenix, Ariz., a group of men gathers every month at a local restaurant to enjoy food and social connection. They call themselves the ROMEOs, or Religious Old Men Eating Out.

Dave Hackett, a member of Lamb of God, started the group in 2021 to help the congregation’s men build fellowship outside of the church setting. “Members get to know each other on a more personal level and find out about each other’s hobbies, interests, vacations, jobs, and other things we may have in common,” explains Hackett. “Then when we see each other at church on Sunday, we continue to build on that relationship.”

Inspiration for the ROMEOs came from Hackett’s father, who went out for lunch each month with his neighbor. They called themselves Retired Old Men Eating Out—the original ROMEOs. Hackett says, “My dad passed away several years ago, but the ROMEOs is a way to keep him in my mind and heart.”

The ROMEOs are just one of the life groups offered at Lamb of God. Mike Koepke, pastor at Lamb of God, explains, “We’ve had member groups getting together since the beginning, but we started to call them life groups about four years ago. We offer any member the opportunity to begin or facilitate a life group.” The groups run in trimesters and can fall into three categories: social, service, and study. This past fall, life group offerings at Lamb of God included S.O.S. (a service-oriented group), Family Fusion (a social group for families with kids), Caring Card Ministry, and more.

group of men sitting at a table
Dave Hackett, Pastor Mike Koepke, and the ROMEOs gather for lunch at a local golf course.

A manual helps define Lamb of God’s approach to life groups, including a description of the three categories and helpful information for scheduling, planning, and hosting a group. The manual reads, “This is pure member ministry. This is in accord with God’s gracious will expressed in Ephesians 4:11-12, which says, ‘Christ himself gave . . . pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.’ ”

Ultimately, life groups empower members to break through social barriers, build relationships, and minister to one another. Hackett, who attends church by himself every Sunday, used to feel uncomfortable socializing with other members during fellowship time. Now with the relationships he’s formed through the ROMEOs, he says, “I feel totally comfortable participating in fellowship time and church-related activities.”

Author: FIC
Volume: 111, Number 01
Issue: January 2024

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