Summary: This series addresses the value and need for small group ministry in the local church
THE W5 OF LIFE GROUPS
Philemon 1:2 – “to the church that meets in your home”
In my teen years my brothers and I shared house chores. Both parents worked long hours so it was reasonable that we would help around the house and yard. We posted a plan, a strategy that helped us to share the workload and achieve the goals of our responsibilities. Every house functions best with some form of structure and order and families take responsibility for one another and are accountable. Our faith community is like any other family. We need strategies to focus on the essential while not neglecting the important. Failure to do so results in dysfunctional “family life” and relationships.
One of those strategies was the dream (maybe we should call it a vision) in 2010 of having every member at KCC in a small group. This vision actually goes back to 2008 when I came to our 13-Board-member-meeting and said I’d like to “Cell the Church”! Thirteen Board members gave consensus without argument or dissension. It was an obvious need for everyone around the table. Four years later we’re hear, ready to launch – and excited about the possibilities and life this direction will create!
With the help of the Holy Spirit we intend
- To demonstrate that Life Groups are significant aids that lead to health and wellness
- To emphasize the need for you to participate as a host, leader or member of a group
- To teach the W5 of Life Groups:
Why Life Groups (four main reasons today)
The weeks ahead 4 key elements (W’s) must characterize the life and function of our groups:
-- Word (central to faith and practice)
-- Welcome (all belong to the body – this is about fellowship having deeper connotations that just “getting together”)
-- Worship (captures the heart of breaking bread)
-- Works (deeds are the light of faith and our works are influenced by our understanding of God’s activity in the world and our place in it)
WHY LIFE GROUPS? It is a Biblically effective strategy for learning and growth. There are no fewer than 10 specific references to house-churches in the Epistles (Speaker’s Bible, page 224). Formal meeting places did not exist until the third century as in buildings or churches in our context. For more than 200 years the church met in homes. The obvious reasons were related to security and avoiding persecution.
This letter of Philemon was written and likely read in a house-church, in the home of Philemon, Apphia (AP fee uh) and Archippus (ahr-KIP-uhs).
There are several Bible references to the mix and mingle of organized temple worship and house-church activity. Anything we present in the next several weeks does not suggest we should replace our regular, corporate worship experiences. Our intent is to encourage Life Groups as an extension of corporate worship.
There are numerous biblical lessons that emphasize the value of small groups. For the most part we only have time today to provide references. You’ll have to take time to do a little digging and exploration.
For instance, we see several accounts of Jesus interacting and teaching in homes. We see him in the home of Simon the leper (Matt 26:6); Jesus and disciples in the home of Simon and Andrew (Mark 1:29); visits with Mary, Martha and Lazarus is always a personal favourite (Luke 20:38)! In Acts 2:46 we see followers of Jesus meeting in their homes; in chapter 18:24-26 we have the story of Priscilla and Aquila explaining the way to Apollos more effectively, though he was already well versed and informed. They did this from their home. One fascinating story is found in Acts 20:7-11, the story of Eutychus! I don’t know what was more alarming – Eutychus falling out of a third story window and killing himself (serves your right for falling asleep during the sermon!) or Paul started talking one day which led into the next morning! Now that’s a long sermon!
Author Dr. Warren Wiersbe in his book Be Dynamic writes, “The believers continued to use the temple for their place of assembly and ministry, but they also met in various homes. The 3,000 new converts needed instruction in the Word and fellowship with God’s people if they were to grow and become effective witnesses. They early church did more than make converts; they also made disciples.”
1. WHY LIFE GROUPS? It is where relationships are forged
Pentecost was the feast that celebrated Moses receiving the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai. This feast occurred 7 weeks (50 days) after Easter Sunday.
Was there an element of fear still percolating in their spirits? Christ had only died and been resurrected seven weeks ago and the political hostilities were likely still steaming and recovering from the fallout. It’s possible although they were not gathered for reasons of fear but had come together for the feast.