Summary: To lay out the vision and strategies for becoming a church where everyone belongs to a small group that loves them and will help them grow in their love for God and others.
I was watching a show the other night with my kids called the Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Part of the episode was a re-enactment of The Wizard of Oz story line. Dorothy’s house had landed on the wicked Witch of the West and Dorothy had started on her journey to Oz along the yellow brick road. Eventually she came to an intersection and wasn’t sure which way to go. Fearful and worried she said a loud, “Oh no, which way do I go?” That’s when the scarecrow spoke up and said, “That way.”
I think a lot of people can relate to Dorothy. Fortunately for us, God cares which way we go and has a yellow brick road for us to follow too. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29.11, NIV)
The yellow brick road that God wants us to travel at this time is comprised of three goals summarized by three words: pray, belong and serve. Last week we addressed the goal for Asbury to become a prayer centered and prayer driven congregation. Today, we address the second goal which is based upon Acts 2.42-47.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2.42-47, NIV)
The word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.
A second goal for Asbury this year is to help everyone associated with Asbury to belong to a small group of people who love each other and who will help each other grow in their ability to love God and bless others.
So, when a person sees or hears the word “belong”, it refers first and foremost to belonging to a small group for the purpose of spiritual formation, that is becoming more like Jesus. In Acts 2 we peeked into a home of Jewish Christians and that’s exactly what we saw. Christ followers gathered in a small group so they could learn and memorize the disciples teachings, which were the teachings of Jesus, and then to pray with and for one another.
Dave Dravecky was the pitcher for the San Francisco Giants when he had to have his throwing arm amputated due to cancer. In his book, The Worth of a Man he talked about how he and his catcher would get together to review their game plan for the day. His catcher would look at the lineup and ask, “How do you want to pitch to these guys?” That gave them a sense of where they were headed. The catcher helped Dravecky stay on course. If he started pitching differently the catcher would call a time-out and say, “Dave, what are you doing? According to your game plan, you don’t want to be doing this.”
Dravecky wrote in his book, “I found that helpful in baseball, and I find it helpful in life. That is why I am part of a group of men who are committed to holding each other accountable to our game plans. General principles in keeping with the basic tenets of the Bible guide my decision making. I want to be faithful to God, my family, my friends, and my calling. I want to live with integrity and make the most of my talents and the opportunities I am afforded in life. I want to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself…The guys in my group share those values.” But more importantly, they help him live the plan.
The house church or small group as we call it today was the heartbeat of the Methodist movement. John Wesley watched the Church of England die a slow death. Called to reform and revive the dry souls of the church his attention turned towards the book of Acts. It was there that he was made aware that the churches hope was going to found in what he called “Primitive Christianity.” And by that he meant being more like the early church revealed in Acts 2. And so along with his evangelistic call to receive Christ as Lord came the call to belong to a small group called the “Class Meeting”. Wesley believed that if a person was serious about being a Christian he or she would be in a class meeting. In fact, they were required to be in a small group. And if they didn’t actively participate in one they were removed and not allowed to attend the class meeting or the worship services where all the class meetings came together, unless they were ready to be serious about it again.