Parish Groups at Advent

The word "Parish" is an ancient English word that comes from the Greek word "paroikos," which means "dwelling beside." Broken up into its two parts, "para" means beside or near, and "oikos" means house. Over time, the word was used as a way to divide up the township or countryside into districts that the church would shepherd.

In The Message Eugene Peterson translates John 1:14 this way: "the Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood." This translation captures beautifully a belief we share: that discipleship and mission are tied together. We grow in our relationship with God and with one another as we follow Jesus, together, in faith. And so, we want to “dwell beside” one another, and we think that the word "parish" really captures that desire.

Defining Characteristics of a Parish Group

Each Parish group has three orientations. They are each oriented UP, IN, and OUT* .


The group is oriented around their relationship with God. So, they will read and discuss God's word, learning together more about what it means to embrace and embody God’s Word in their lives (i.e. live out God’s Word). Together they will pray and worship the Savior.


Our growing relationship with God calls us to grow closer to one another as we embrace, embody, and extend God’s grace to each other. Each Parish group will seek to build care and community in each other’s lives


Part of loving God and loving each other is encouraging each other to pay attention to where God has placed each of us. In addition to inviting others to join us—to come “in” to our group—we want to move out into our neighborhoods, jobs, and other places that are part of our day-to-day lives always asking "where can we embody and extend the grace of Jesus Christ" today.
All Parish Groups are open, and all parish groups strive to multiply over a two-year period.

Practices of a Parish Group

1. Word & Prayer
2. Food
3. Fun
4. care

Over time, we want each Parish Group both to engage in these practices together, and also to spur one another on to individual spiritual practices as part of developing good rhythms of embodying God’s grace.

*We are grateful to the insights of Mike Breen and his book Building A Discipling Culture