Summary: In small groups, every person can experience and give out the love for each other we’ve been commanded to show.
Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing
2. Loving Each Other Through Small Groups
January 15/16, 2005
MAIN POINT: In small groups, every person can experience and give out the love for each other we’ve been commanded to show.
A few years ago at a small groups conference they told the story of a church that looked as though they were really thriving: they had about 500 people attending, and had many outreach ministries reaching their community, and many people were coming to Christ and to church through their ministry.
The problem was that the church was not growing in numbers – people were leaving as quickly as they were coming in. They began to do some research on the people who were leaving and they found that the majority who left were not attending another church, they just stopped going to church all together. They realized that although the church was great at evangelism, because of their inability to hold people, they were actually de-evangelizing their neighbourhood. Those who were leaving were almost impossible to bring back into any community of faith.
The senior pastor realized that something had to be done, so he called up that last 12 people to be baptized and invited them to supper at his house. These were all new Christians and very excited to be invited to the Pastor’s house. After supper he sat them down and asked if they wanted to know the future. They all said “yes!” So he said, statistically speaking in the next 2-3 years… two of your marriages will have broken up and the shame will cause you to leave the church, three of you will have a conflict with someone in the church and you will leave the church, one will have a tragedy and lose faith and leave, two will have a moral failing and leave, and two will lose interest and drift away. In two to three years, out of this group only two of you will be attending church, and only one of you at this church. There was dead silence in the room. All these wide eyed Christians were about to say “surely not I, Lord.” When one of them spoke up and said What can we do to change the statistics. The pastor said, you can get together and as a group decide that you are not going to let anyone go.
That is exactly what they did – these strangers formed a small group and supported each other through the tragedies, divorces, conflicts and failings and in four years, only one had left the church never to come back. The church went from losing 10 out of every 12 converts to losing only one.
Don’t you want that? I do – but the only way it will happen is if we keep the main thing the main thing and we follow Jesus command to LOVE ONE ANOTHER as he gave in John 13:34.
John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
That’s why one of the 3 priorities of our church is Small Groups: We are determined to care for each other through small groups. For it is in small groups, meeting in individual homes every week, that each of us has the opportunity to get to know others and to be known by others. And only in so doing will we come to LOVE one another in the ways the Bible talks about.
When it talks about loving each other – it’s not just a feeling – it is rooted in specific actions. I’d like to take a few minutes and look at some of these scriptures. These scriptures will inform us of what we should be working toward and what we should expect to find in a small group.
There are over 21 commands and I won’t go into detail in all of them, but here are some of the major ones…
• Accept one another (Rom. 15:5-7)
Romans 15:5-7 (NLT) May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other--each with the attitude of Christ Jesus toward the other. 6Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7So accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified.
CTK Small groups are to be a place where we accept each other just as Christ accepted us. How is that? He gave of his time and his energy to people BEFORE they figured everything out. He communicated God’s love to people even though they might not have made the best choices. When he was at a party – he was the life of the party. People wanted to be around him because he accepted people.