Undoubtedly, the idea of believers meeting together in small groups is not something new. To the contrary, we find such meetings throughout the New Testament.
- Jesus and His disciples
Some would argue that the first small group involved Jesus meeting with His disciples. After calling them to Himself, Jesus spent great amounts of time with them. (Matthew 1:11; 20:17: Mark 6:30-32)
Jesus spent significant time instructing, rebuking, and encouraging the disciples in their spiritual walk and ministry. It was their “small group” with Jesus that truly prepared them for their future ministry.
- The early Church – Acts 2:46; 5:42
These early believers did not have church buildings to meet in. The first church buildings did not start to appear until the early 200s. For the first two centuries they met in homes. Now, let’s make sure that we paint the right picture.
This was not a meeting where coffee and donuts were shared while sitting on comfortable couches. No, as a matter of fact, the early church often met in secret. They met fearful of being caught. They met at the risk of being imprisoned or losing their lives. Yet they met together faithfully.
It always amazes me that the closer we move away from difficulties the less frequently we meet together. The easier our lives get, the less urgency we feel to meet together with our Faith Family. The simple truth is that we need each other. Life groups are important. If they were important for the disciples and the early Church, then they certainly must be important to us.
Let me give you five reasons why Life Groups are important.
- LIFE GROUPS develop healthy spiritual relationships
- From the very beginning God designed man with the need to be in the company of others.
That truth is first seen in Genesis 2:18 when God says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” It is in the fellowship with other believers that we find the encouragement, accountability and support that we desperately need.
- The phrase that Paul uses to describe the believer’s mutual relationship is “one another”.
Although “one another” is two words in English, it is only one word in Greek (ἀλλήλων). It is found 100 times in 94 New Testament verses.
- These “one another” relationships are best played out in small groups where friendships are developed.
LIFE GROUPS provide friendship, camaraderie and accountability. They connect you with people that are struggling with the same battles that you face and rejoice in similar victories. In short, LIFE GROUPS provide you with Christian friends that will encourage you in your walk with the Lord.
- Although, we should never isolate ourselves to the degree that we only have Christian friends, we must also make sure that our closest friends are ones who can help us in our spiritual walk (Proverbs 13:20; I Corinthians 15:33).
- LIFE GROUPS provide accountability – Proverbs 27:17
- Accountability – The need for a believer to account for his/her activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent way.
- All of us need someone to whom we are accountable, someone to whom we can confess our sins and disclose our secrets.
- Our interaction with other believers actually hones or sharpens our skill in handling the challenges of life (James 5:16).
- LIFE GROUPS facilitate spiritual growth
- Obviously, spiritual growth should be a normal part of the Christian experience. A lack of spiritual growth should be abnormal (Colossians 1:10; I Peter 2:2; II Peter 3:18
- By the way, there is never a time in which we should not be growing in our walk with the Lord.
We never grow to the place that we no longer need to grow. Thus, we need to constantly put ourselves into situations that will facilitate growth. That is why LIFE GROUPS are so vital.
- Spiritual growth happens not just by listening to Scripture, but meditating on it and discussing (Psalm 1:1, 2).
There is something unique and powerful about studying God’s Word in a small group setting. In the worship service you sit and listen to the Pastor, while in small groups you sit and share with each other. Small groups allow for biblical truth to come alive in a way that is powerfully different than the worship experience. Both are necessary for spiritual growth. Those biblical truths that we hear need to be fleshed out, discussed and meditated on. Such biblical interaction with other believers facilitates spiritual growth.
- Spiritual growth happens by living out the truth of God’s Word in community.
In other words, we take the principles of God’s Word that we have studied together and we put them into practice. As part of the Faith Family, the Life Group is able to openly discuss the truths that are difficult to put into practice. In those areas of weakness we find encouragement and support from our brothers and sisters in Christ. Such support propels us forward in our Christian walk.
- LIFE GROUPS give an opportunity to demonstrate the reality of Christian Community
- It is virtually impossible to demonstrate such community in corporate
- The “one another” principles of the New Testament must be lived out in small groups (Romans 12:15; Galatians 6:1, 2; James 5:16).
Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book Life Together states, “The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer.” What a true statement!
- It is in living, loving and ministering together that believers show the world the difference that Jesus Christ makes in our lives (John 13:35).
- LIFE GROUPS provide an opportunity for service
- It makes perfect sense to do ministry with the same group of people with whom you are growing in your spiritual walk.
- Such ministry opportunities provide the perfect environment to put into practice the spiritual truths that you are learning.
- It is so much fun to be able to serve the Lord and others with those whom you know and love the best.
So let me ask, “are you part of a Life Group?” If not, let me encourage you to find one. You can get all the information you need on LIFE GROUPS at the guest services table or you can find it on our web site at http://site.ourhcc.org/life-groups/
You will not regret it!