Summary: Part 1 of series Connecting. Dave asserts that small groups are an important way of living Bibically, and allows the Bible to speak for itself.
Connecting through Friendships
Connecting, part 1
Wildwind Community Church
No one wants to be invisible. No one wants to be invisible. Everybody wants to be acknowledged. At some point, every person who walks in the door of this church is hoping to make a connection with somebody. Everybody wants to connect. You might disagree with that. You might say, “What about that period of time early on when someone first visits a church where they want to remain basically anonymous. People aren’t always looking for connection when they come to church.”
But if you said that, you would be wrong. A brand new person, coming in here for the very first time, though he/she may not want to be smothered or have a barrage of people around them, they at least want a friendly handshake and/or a smile. That’s connection! They may wish to remain basically anonymous, but they do not wish to remain invisible. No one wants to be invisible.
It is not true that some people come to church looking for connection and others do not. Everybody looks for connection on some level. Can we start there today? Can we start with an acknowledgement that although human beings are different in important ways, we are also alike in important ways? The most essential things that make us human are the things we have in common. People need connection. People need a place. People need to be acknowledged and to not feel invisible. Gandhi built his non-violent movement around that need, as did Dr. King. A man named Jesus built his movement around that need.
Jesus rocked the world, no doubt about it, and the world is still rocking as a result of his impact. How’d he do it? He spoke to what was universal in human beings. A need for unconditional love. A need for community. A need to feel accepted by God, to feel significant because of Him, and to feel secure in Him. A need to make a connection – with God and with other people. After Jesus ascended back into heaven, the Apostle Paul became Christianity’s greatest teacher. How’d he do it? He spoke to what was universal in human beings. A need to feel connected to God and to other human beings.
Please hear me, now, because this is huge. Some people say, “I’m a loner, I don’t need other people. I don’t need connection.” My friends, those words were never uttered out of anything but fear. Fear. Fear keeps us separated from others and from God. Fear keeps us locked inside ourselves. Fear keeps others at arm’s length. Loners are people driven by fear, keeping others at bay through rage and silence. In this way they never have to see themselves in the experience of another person, never have to really get to know themselves, get to always think of themselves abstractly through their own perceptions, and never bump up against the hard realities about who they are as shown in the way they relate to others. You show me a true loner and I’ll show you a Columbine, or a suicide, waiting to happen. Death on some scale – emotionally, spiritually, even physically, is the ultimate fruit of disconnection and isolation. Connection always requires courage, and to whatever extent we avoid connection with others, we live small, fearful lives.
Now I want to do two things. The first will take just a few moments and the second will take the rest of our sermon time today. First, I want to tell you up front that my goal in the coming moments is to present to you the reason why we believe it is essential that you connect to others through a small group. A small group is a group of 3-12 people who meet regularly for prayer, sometimes Bible study, for friendship, and for learning how to live the life God would have us live. If you simply cannot do that now because of work, or illness in your family, we understand. I’m not claiming that you will go to hell if you don’t join a Wildwind small group. But I am promising you will miss the best this church has to offer in terms of your own spiritual growth. Long-term, you are meant to live in close connection to a few other people who can come alongside and encourage you and help you seek and find God better. You also are meant to be that encourager in the life of someone else. Are you sitting there right now thinking, “No way! Not me! I have nothing to offer anyone else!” If so, make no mistake about it. That’s not modesty or humility talking, it’s fear. It’s tricky because it sounds so much like humility, but it’s not. It’s standard-issue fear. We’re born with it. But we’re not meant to live according to it. Small group involvement helps you step out beyond fear and reach for life-giving connection to other people. It helps you realize that you have something to contribute, and that not only is that an obligation, it’s a privilege. There’s my quick word about small groups.