How do you know if someone is passionate about something? They talk about it. Obsess about it. Share it. Teach it. Learn about new methods of enjoying and understanding it. Whatever your “it” is, the thing you are passionate about, your actions and words prove the passion. I’m passionate about small groups (or community group, or life groups, whatever). How do you know that I’m passionate? I talk about them. I participate in them. I have several paperback books rich with information about them (I do own them, but this was mainly a sarcastic sentence). And as you see, I write about them.
My church is doing a “push” for small groups this weekend. We are essentially opening our current small groups up for new people to join (I say this because I do not believe there are any new small groups launching. Hence a “push” not “launch,” so maybe it should be called a “grab” or “snag” or “gotcha”).
Community is possibly the most important part of a Christian’s discipleship journey. “How?” you might ask. Well let’s look at the Bible for three quick points as to why you (Yes, YOU!) should join a small group!
1. God is a small group (If God is one…)
The first image we get from the Bible is that God is all about community. In fact, God is essentially a perfect small group community. Genesis 1:1-2, 26 tells of this community when it states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters…Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.'” All of this leads into the doctrine of the Trinity, which is the teaching that God is one with three essences (Augustine said of the doctrine of the Trinity, “If you deny the Trinity you are damned, if you try to understand it you’ll go insane.” paraphrased) We see God, the Holy Spirit, and a reference to Jesus in the creation narrative.
2. Jesus led a small group (If Jesus was in one…)
Another picture advocating the importance of community in the life of the Christian comes from Jesus’ choosing twelve men to be his disciples. If Jesus, the Son of God, chose to share intimate relationships with people then you and I should. Mind you, these men were cowards, jerks, loud mouths, thieves, annoyed by children, probably smelly, and definitely prideful until Jesus helped adjust their attitudes. There certainly are a few people within the church walls who have similar attributes, and maybe that’s you. If there were only a verse saying, “Get over other people’s faults, cause they have to get over yours.” No excuses. Jesus loved sinful people, and used community as part of the cure.
3. The first church was a small group (If the old school church was one…)
Here’s a little historical information for your noggin’. The first church was made up of approximately 120 Jews. They had a place of worship before Jesus came: the temple. This temple was the center of worship for all Jews. There were also synagogues. Synagogues were places of teaching and worship. The first church took what they understood of worshiping God, and combined it with the teaching of Jesus. The book of Acts shares what happened to the church when it they synthesized tradition with the Christ’s new teaching:
Acts 2:42 – 47 The Fellowship of the Believers
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.
The normative practice for the first church members was to be in small group. Sharing food, learning from one another, worshiping, prayer, and miraculous signs were all a part of the small groups. And the church was growing! The first church was all about community.
So, then, my thesis is this: If God is like a small group in his essence; and if Jesus formed a small group during his three years of ministry, and if the first church was built through small groups; then let’s all join one and grow in