How To Better Follow Jesus   

Introduction:

You and I can choose to continue with business as usual in the Christian life or we can take an honest evaluation of our relationship with Jesus and ask how we can make it better. It is a tough question, but one that could change our life. If you are willing to look at how you could better your relationship with Jesus, I would suggest you consider joining a Northstar Group. Northstar Groups help people meet and follow Jesus though life-changing friendships. Northstar Groups enable you to build healthy relationships with others, no matter what stage of life you’re in. Young or old, Emerald Coast native or transplant, single, married or divorced, long-time follower of Jesus or curious skeptic with serious questions, we have a group that will help you connect with others and grow your relationship with Jesus Christ and with other Christians.

Something To Talk About:

I think we know intuitively that life is better together. Northstar groups are designed to provide a consistent, ongoing opportunity to experience deeper connections with God and with others. At Northstar we encourage believers to make two key commitments: one is to attend worship service at one of our campuses each week, and the other is to join a Northstar group and be an active participant in the group. The following is a summary of four reasons to join a group:

You need someone to sharpen you:  Small Groups are the heartbeat of Northstar. Without them, we wouldn’t have a context to hear from God with a smaller group of believers. When we gather together and seek out God, He is more than happy to speak to us and help us shape each other in the process. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Northstar Groups are the best way to get involved in sharpening the lives of others, and having your life sharpened in the process.  We all need someone who can tell it to us straight even when it is something we don’t want to hear. 

You need someone to put up with.  All the people who join a Northstar Group are composed of sinners all along the same journey of faith. Life can get messy relationally which is precisely why we have the gospel of grace that shows us how we ought to be long suffering and humble toward one another. ( See Philippians 2:1-7) As Roy said Sunday, we can put up with others because God is putting up with others. Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in Life Together: “The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves.” 

You need someone to confess your sins to: In 1 Timothy 2:5 we read that “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” However, we can also appreciate the teaching to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16). Northstar Groups is an area where we can give a trusted group of friends permission to barge into your life at any time to ask any question for any reason. As bad as that may seem, it is the opposite. Your walk with Jesus will be better if  you have trusted friends that have permission to speak into your life at any time about anything that you see, and have permission to ask any question at any point about anything in your life. 

You need someone to pray with you: Many people are hesitant to pray in front of others, especially in a large church. In a Northstar group you can participate in prayer by having a conversation together with God. No one is pressured to pray, but as you become comfortable, you’ll be able to communicate with God. There are many promises in the Bible related to group prayer. “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Questions:

  1. What do you need to do to be a better follower of Jesus?
  2. What is your definition of Christian community? What is the goal of Christian community?
  3. The presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength in the believer. Agree or disagree. If agree, what makes it so?
  4. Have you had a bad experience in a small group? What was it?
  5. How would you rate your ability to put up with others?
  6. When you feel the need to confess a sin and seek the support and love of a Christian friend, do you have a person to go to? What would you say and how would you react if a Christian friend asked you if he/she could confess a sin to you? How would you prepare yourself?
  7. Contact your campus pastor if you have any additional questions or concerns.

Take One Thing Home with You

No matter your tradition, and no matter your past, there is simply no better way to mature in Christ than intentionally being in a context where others are growing closer to God. We tend to become like the people we spend time with. Therefore it makes the most sense to consistently be around those who are also hungry to grow in Christ. My purpose today is to convince you and to challenge you to get involved in a Northstar Group.

Yes, it is another time commitment that many of us don’t need. But let me tell you what you will receive for your two hour commitment each week: First, you will make new friends, maybe lifelong friends that will always be there for you. Second, you will find out that you are not alone in your struggles. You have support from other believers. Third, the body of Christ really becomes a family like it was intended to be.   And fourth you will grow because being involved in consistent, growing relationships that are based on Christ, generally improve our walk with God  in every way.