Summary: This sermon explores why believers should participate in Growth Groups.
It can never be said that Adele Gaboury’s neighbors were less than responsible. When her front lawn grew hip-high, they had a local boy mow it down. When her pipes froze and burst, they turned the water off. When the mail spilled out the front door, they called the police. The only thing they didn’t do was to check and see how Adele was doing. She wasn’t doing well. She was dead.
Police finally climbed her crumbling brick stoop, broke in the side door of her little blue house, and found what they believed to be the 73-year-old woman’s skeletal remains, where they had lain, perhaps for as long as four years!
“It’s not really a friendly neighborhood,” said Eileen Dugan, 70, once a close friend of Gaboury’s, whose house sits 20 feet from the dead woman’s house. “I’m as much to blame as anyone. She was alone and needed someone to talk to, but I was working two jobs and was tired of her coming over at all hours. Eventually I stopped answering the door.”
I find this story unbelievable. How can someone be so disconnected? How can a person die and others not know about it?
Yet we are a society that is becoming increasingly disconnected from each other. For example, a study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, released in June 2006, revealed that Americans have less people they can confide in than past generations.
In 1985, the average American had 3 people in whom to confide. In 2004, that number dropped to 2. Perhaps even more striking, the number of Americans with no close friends rose from 10 percent in 1985 to 24.6 percent in 2004.
God designed us to be in a relationship with him, and also with one another. Today I would like to examine one of the most remarkable groups ever documented, and answer the question, “Why Growth Groups?” That is, why should you participate in a Growth Group? Let us read Acts 2:42-47:
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)
Set in 72 BC, the 2004 television miniseries Spartacus follows the adventures of a former slave who leads an army of freed slaves against the tyrannical Roman legions. In one scene, Spartacus and his followers are hiding out in a secluded forest because the Roman army is hunting them. Spartacus says the time has come for decisive action, but his followers are unsure and even selfish.
One man, Crixus, says, “I go where I go. No man tells Crixus what to do anymore.”
Spartacus calls for Crixus to come and stand next to him.
“This is Crixus the Gaul—maybe the strongest man among us,” Spartacus says. “Still, he’s only one man.”
Spartacus hands Crixus a single arrow, saying, “Can you bend this?”
Crixus easily breaks it and throws it to the ground.
Then Spartacus hands Crixus a stack of arrows that are bound together, saying, “Now break all of these.”
Crixus takes the arrows but is unable to break them, eventually throwing them to the ground in frustration.
“We are like the arrows,” Spartacus says. “Separately we’re weak, but together we’re invincible. That’s why the Romans worked so hard to divide us tribe-by-tribe and country-by-country. We’re one tribe, then?”
“Yes!” the crowd roars.
“Is that your will?”
As I mentioned earlier, God designed us for relationships—with himself, and also with one another. By ourselves we are weak. But together we can accomplish a great deal.
Before we begin talking about why we need to be in Growth Groups, let me define what I mean by a “Growth Group.” A Growth Group, broadly speaking, provides a place for believers to mature in Christ through a discipling relationship. Offering more than just a time of fellowship, the Growth Group setting encourages the development of meaningful friendships by offering a time of Bible study, prayer, accountability, and personal application.
So, why Growth Groups? Because:
1. God used Growth Groups in the Old Testament,
2. God used Growth Groups in the New Testament, and
3. God uses Growth Groups today.
I. God Used Growth Groups in the Old Testament