Summary: A sermon examining home groups and small groups, answering the questions: Are they biblical? Are they historical? Are they baptistic? And, Are they needful? (for our church members and for the church)
Grow Deep at GBC Through Fellowship
Series: Get on the Ship
January 31, 2016
TEXT: Acts 2:46-47 – “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
Illus. – The huge redwood trees in California are amazing. They’re the largest living things on earth and the tallest trees in the world. Some of them are 300 feet high and more than 2,500 years old.
You would think that trees that large would have a deep root system, reaching down hundreds of feet into the earth, but that is not the case. Redwoods actually have a very shallow root system—only about 4-6 feet deep.
However, the roots of these trees are intertwined; they’re tied in with each other; interlocked. Thus, when the storms come and the winds blow the redwoods still stand. With an interlocking root system they support and sustain each other. They need one another to survive—and so do we!
This is why we have homegroups at Grace Baptist Church. In the early days, we had a traditional Wednesday night service. We began meeting in homegroups during the week because we saw some important needs in our church and felt that homegroups would enable us to better address them than a traditional Wednesday service. It has become part of the DNA of Grace Baptist Church.
Three weeks ago we began a series titled, “Get on the Ship.
• First I challenged you to get on the StewardSHIP, and I challenged you to tithe to Grace Baptist to support its goals and its ministries.
• Last week I urged you to experience OwnerSHIP in GBC by finding a ministry to be involved in. You will feel ownership in a church where you are ministering and serving.
Today I want you to see the importance of being in a homegroup so you can grow deep in your faith through fellowship. First, let’s define them: Homegroups are “small groups of people who meet regularly in homes during the week to study and apply biblical truths, share about their lives, minister to and support one another, and be accountable to one another spiritually.”
I want to answer four questions about homegroups today. By the way, many of the things I’ll say apply to other small group studies as well, but I’ll use the word homegroups as a catchall for all the groups that meet as ministries of our church. So let me answer four critical questions about homegroups:
I. FIRST, ARE THEY BIBLICAL?
• Some traditional-minded believers who grew up with a Wednesday night prayer meeting oppose small groups and homegroups as novel inventions that are suspect at best.
• But strange as it may seem, nowhere does the New Testament record a Wednesday night service; but it is REPLETE with references to small groups and home groups.
For instance, the first New Testament small group was THE 12 APOSTLES.
For three years, this small group spent time with Jesus and with one another—learning together, ministering together, growing together, fellowshipping together.
William Beckham says “Jesus called out a core group to model His ecclesia or ‘called out ones’.…They formed His basic community through which He would prepare future leaders” [Beckham, William A., The Second Reformation (1995, Houston: Touch Publications), p. 153.]
Also, the BOOK OF ACTS shows a fascinating interplay between the “church large” (the larger church gathered together to worship and hear the Word), and the “church small,”—small groups that gathered and ministered in homes. You have to understand that the early church didn’t own church buildings. So where did they meet?—At times in the temple (“church large”); and at times in homes (“church small”).
For instance, Acts 2:46 says, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.”
In Acts 5:42 we read, “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”
In Acts 20:20, recalling his ministry in Ephesus, Paul said, “And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house.”
Persecution produced a change in the very character of the local church. Once persecution spread, the temple and synagogues became inhospitable places for Christians, and from then on homes became THE central localities where churches met.
Where were the disciples when Peter was imprisoned and then set free by an angel?—In a HOME, praying for Peter to be released (Acts 12).
When Paul and Silas were released from prison by the Philippian jailor, we read in Acts 16:40 that they “…went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.”