Summary: The necessity of small groups
A Call to Smallness
Moving Ahead Together, Part 8
I have entitled today’s message ‘A Call to Smallness.’ I say call because I believe it is something God is calling us to not as another program but as a way of life, as part of our DNA as a church. Why do I believe that God is calling us to smallness? God is calling us to smallness because community as described in the NT is a life of real, authentic, and growing relationships. There is not full-fledged body ministry to the extent the NT describes. It is not happening on Sunday mornings, it is not happening in Sunday school, or it is not happening in our times of prayer together. It does not and cannot happen in large corporate meetings.
1. Relationships are the basis for ministry
Listen to the following verses:
ESV John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another
ESV Romans 15:14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.
ESV Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor.
ESV Colossians 3:16 teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom.
ESV 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.
ESV Matthew 24:10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.
ESV John 15:12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
ESV Romans 15:7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
ESV Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
ESV 2 Corinthians 13:11 Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
ESV Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
ESV Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another . . . tenderhearted, forgiving one another.
ESV Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
ESV 1 Thessalonians 5:15 always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
ESV Hebrews 3:13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
ESV James 5:16 confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
SV 1 Peter 4:9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
ESV 1 Peter 4:10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another:
We cannot fulfill all these commands unless we meet together in small formal and informal groups. Why is it important for us to meet together and why does the NT describes the one another texts the way they do? I propose to you that the normal supernatural life that the New Testament describes comes from people meeting together in small groups to encourage each other to thrive spiritually.
2. Relationships Keep me spiritually thriving
Are you thriving spiritually or are you just surviving? There is a difference. Surviving is going through the motions, activities, and routines of the Christian life. Thriving is going through those same motions, activities, routines with life and passion and enthusiasm because you see God working in your life and in the midst of the lives of others. There are two primary purposes for relationships in the Christian life.
• To persevere in the faith
ESV Hebrews 3:12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
Listen very carefully; take your mind out of autopilot because I am going to say something very deliberate and I want you to understand it. It is imperative to your spiritual health. It does happen to people and has happened to people here at CCC that they become deceived by the attractiveness of sin and become hardened toward the things of the Spirit and fall away. There are and will be people that profess Christ that will not hold firm to the end and then there are people who will profess Christ that will hold firm to the end. Verse 14 clarifies and distinguishes between these two groups of people. In verse 14, we have a for – it is explanatory. For we share in Christ IF we hold to our original confidence firm to the end. Genuine Christians are those who hold fast or persevere to the end. What God uses in our lives to make our calling and election sure, as 1 Peter describes it is encouragement of my brothers and sisters to hold fast to Christ and forsake the pleasures of sin. The deceptive nature of sin is real. I am not talking about perfection I am talking about perseverance. The warnings of Scripture are real because the possibility of falling away is real. God uses warnings like this to encourage us to persevere, which in itself is a work of faith and the Spirit. A great example of deceitfulness of sin is apathy or luke warmness because it is so accepted as normal Christianity. So many people live their lives as cultural Christians always being reminded that they made a decision for Christ but no fruit in their lives. But we are going to fight that deception. We are going to swim upstream against the current. God is going to make CCC a great church because he is going to move on our hearts and in our lives to do awesome things. How will he do that? What is the means God, in his wisdom, to use by which the Spirit moves in our lives to make us aware of our sin and the deceitfulness of it and to keep of from falling away and throwing our hope away? It is personal relationships – look at verse 13 But exhort one another. How do we fight an evil unbelieving heart? How do we keep from falling away from the living God? Exhort or encourage one another. How often are we to do this - every day! That does not happen on Sundays, prayer meetings, SS. Notice it also does not say Pastors, teachers, elders, encourage one another – brothers. I.e. person I am currently meeting with. We can only encourage one another in small groups where we can get to know each other and share our lives. But this is not the only purpose of encouraging relationships, the second toward radical acts of love.