I Love My Church

Introduction:

No matter how tough you are, no matter how independent or self-reliant you are, and no matter how much you pride yourself in the belief that you don’t need anyone, it just is not true. We simply were not created to do life alone. We were created to be in community. We were designed to need and want other people. Life is meant to be shared and experienced with others. There is strength in numbers. Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” We need each other. We all need somebody.

Bottom line: You can’t do life alone.

Something To Talk About:

Going to church is obviously essential and even commanded, but you worship in a crowd and fellowship in a small group. We need to be in circles, not in rows. The small group is a place to share your hurts, pain and problems. You need other people to pray with you, encourage you and hold you accountable. Small groups have one simple purpose: to bring people together. We believe God created us to live in relationship with others and only then can we live the full life He intends for us. That’s why small groups exist.

  1. Small groups give you a place to believe: Let’s be honest for a second. We all know there is a gap between who we are today and who we want to be. Maybe you want to develop a new skill, improve a relationship, or get in shape. The goal is to grow into that better version of ourselves. Christians aren’t immune from this desire. Discipleship is based and focused on learning and growing to be more like Jesus. One of the primary places where growth occurs and lives are changed is within small groups. A small group leads to growth by creating more opportunities to come to know God, to practice the teachings of Jesus, and to grow spiritually. It is a place to believe. It is a place to get questions answered and it is the place for healing. Believe me, it is true and can change your life. 
  2. Small groups give you a place to belong: In a small group, you’re more than just a face in the crowd. You are cared for and celebrated like a part of the family. You share joys and sorrows with others who face the same life situations as you. Relationships are not always easy, and neither are small groups. You need to be connected with other people. Built into the regular rhythm of your life there needs to be an ongoing connection with other people that are living the Life of Jesus. You’ll encourage and serve each other. You’ll learn about God through the Bible and grow together. Do you ever feel like you need a little help in your relationship with God? A small group can help you by holding you accountable. Not in a judgmental way, but in a helping each other so we can love God and others better kind of way. Sometimes we simply need somebody to point out the guardrails that we may be starting to walk over. That happens when you belong to a group doing life together.
  3. Small groups give you a place to become: It’s amazing what God can do through a group of people as they use their skills, gifts and resources to do life together. People grow in small groups. As you grow deeper in your relationship with God, you begin to change from the inside out. The group helps you shape new habits and overcome old ones, based on the Bible. They provide the support and encouragement to put God’s truth into practice in everyday life. The Bible exhorts us in Colossians 1:28 to “teach everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.” 

Questions:

  1. Why do Christians need one another? What value do you place on belonging, connecting and growing?
  2. What is the goal of Christian community? Of small groups?
  3. How much margin do I have in my life for this kind of shared life? What do I need to do to create more margin? 
  4. What experiences are unique to you that would equip you to reach/care for/relate to or minister to someone else?
  5. Read Ephesians 4:15. What does this verse mean to you?
  6. God often uses spiritual friendships as a “means of grace.”Agree or disagree? How might you cultivate such friendships?

Take One Thing Home with You

A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner.” ? Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

Life can be tough. Even tougher if you’re trying to do it without the support of others. The reason we want people out of rows and into circles is so they will be surrounded by a faith-family of warm, caring people who face many of the same challenges we may be struggling with right now. Our kids don’t always listen, our parents can be critical, our bosses demand too much, and sometimes we sit and wonder what else could possibly go wrong. But that can change when we do life with other believers in a small group.  We laugh and cry together, we worship and grow together, we pull together to support each other, and nurture each other, and love each other as Christ loves us. In doing life together we find restoring, sharing, and a sense of belonging. 

One of the great realities of the Christian life is that it was meant to be shared together.

Small groups have one simple purpose: to bring people together. We believe God created us to live in relationship with others. Sharing life through community is part of our design, but meaningful relationships aren’t always easy to find. That’s why small groups exist— it’s a place to belong, connect, and grow.