Summary: What is community, and why should we seek to grow that through small groups?
Last week I talked to you guys about some of my resolutions and goals, and how I grouped them into different categories: spiritual, intellectual, ministerial, physical, and financial. Well, over the next couple of weeks, I want to navigate through some ministerial goals with you specifically revolving around the goal of not being stagnant. We want to be a people of movement, a love revolution in our world, and over the next several weeks I want us to discover HOW we actually do that. We’re starting a series called Growth Through Groups and I’d like to navigate the importance of small groups in our lives.
One of my ministerial goals this year is to change the philosophy of ministry to incorporate intentional discipleship alongside effective evangelism. We have been known as a ministry that does evangelism well, and that discipleship happens organically. I’ve been challenged to see what would happen if discipleship was intentional, rather than organic. What I hope happens is that the light bulb would go off for all the teens in our church. That something inside each of you would click if it hasn’t already. That community, depth, and accountability in your spiritual journey would happen as a result of intentional discipleship through small groups.
Tonight, we’re talking about community. The first thing that should grow through groups is community. [community clip] This show on NBC is all about people who attend a community college. They start a study group but they learn more about each other than their intended course studies. We talked during our relationships series how we were designed for relationship. Genesis 2 says that it’s not good for man to be alone. God designed us to be in relationship with each other, and in essence, to be in community. Being a part of community is fun, challenging, inspiring, motivating, and encouraging. It’s about doing life together. Over the years, Jenni and I have been a part of different groups. For a while, I was in a men’s group that met weekly to talk, hang out, play games, and study. There was something unique about the group that felt like community, but when it came down to it, for most of the guys it was just another meeting. All of us didn’t really hang out together outside the group, though a few of us did. Something that struck me though was that we weren’t really doing life together. We were just meeting together so that we could say we had a “men’s group”. Ooooh, Spiritual! Don’t get me wrong—we studied some great things—we read Wild At Heart together, we played poker, we talked through our issues, and we had fun. But it didn’t last—guys got different jobs, they moved, they didn’t feel comfortable being open with each other. Now, I am a part of a community that’s been forming over the years. I consider my community to be my best friends, my brothers, my sisters, people that I enjoy spending time with. We don’t all meet together for a Bible Study, but we do life together. We talk often outside the group, we hang out, and we challenge each other, pray for each other, and encourage each other.
Hebrews 10: 23-25 says this, “23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
The writer of Hebrews is writing to the Hebrew people, who converted to Christianity from Judaism—in essence, Christian Jews. His goal is to address the doubts that the people had in their conversion. Here in chapter 10, he’s telling them to hold onto their hope. Now hope in the Bible isn’t so much the same as what we declare as hope. When we say stuff like, “I hope so” it literally means that if it happens, great! But when people mention hope in the Bible, it goes along with belief—like knowing for certain that it will happen. So he says hold onto your hope—don’t lose faith, because God is faithful. Then he goes onto say consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. He’s saying that these things-love and good deeds- don’t just naturally happen, they have to be stirred up. The greek word here is “paroxysm”-which means a “convulsion.” It speaks forcefully of the tremendous impact that believers can have on each other. It’s like if I were to do my best to convince you of something I might grab you, and shake you and say “don’t you get it?!?” or “snap out of it!” This is why he encourages the Hebrews to not stop meeting together. Apparently, some of them stopped attending worship services, maybe for fear of persecution, but he’s telling them you need to come alongside each other, inspire each other with the truth, and apply it to the circumstances of your very lives, and don’t stop doing that until Jesus comes back---in fact, do it more often so that you can remain faithful to Jesus before he comes back.