Pastor John’s Blog

(Claimer [as opposed to a disclaimer]: The following is a shameless plug for small groups accompanied by an earnest plea that you take part in one or more, if you are not already doing so.)

According to the gospels, Jesus taught crowds. But there were also times that he spoke only with his disciples. On at least one occasion, Jesus went apart with just three others. Why?

Peter delivered his first ‘sermon’ to over 3000 people. Yet, most of the earliest meetings of the followers of the Way (they didn’t call themselves Christians) were in homes. Why?

Sunday worship at Lord of Life brings together about 400 folks weekly. Some members avail themselves of smaller groups opportunities for bible and book studies, fellowship, and hands-on mission. Why?

Sunday worship offers a time for prayer, hearing the word read and proclaimed, sharing sacramentally, greeting friends and acquaintances, fellowshipping and contributing to the life of community both inside and outside the walls. But it’s tough to ‘go deep’ during the community worship time, or to share what’s been happening with the kids, or the new job, or job loss, or parenting parents, or struggling with the challenges of living.

Earliest scriptures affirm that God saw it was ‘not good’ to be alone. Moreover, Jesus guarantees his presence when two or more gather in his name. Some 50 times in the New Testament, the phrase, ‘one another,’ reflects the mutuality of relationship recommended in following Jesus: love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor; live in harmony with one another; no longer pass judgement on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling-block or hindrance in the way of another; welcome one another, just as Christ has welcomed you; bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ; be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Personal devotions are important. Personal prayer is important. Solitude can have its own rewards. Small groups offer opportunities to dialogue, to wrestle with the great (and not so great) questions in our lives, to share deeply our hurts and joys or with the hurts or joys of sisters and brothers, and to experience the joy of service. And sometimes, it’s just downright fun to get together.

When we share our experience of God with one another in close-relational groups, we can’t help but reaffirm our faith. When we hear others share their experience of God, our spirit opens to possibilities. There is a difference between the dining table discussion (or pub discussion) and Sunday worship. It’s not an “either/or;” it’s a “both/and.” What is planted in the classroom or the sanctuary can be nurtured – even harvested – in small groups.

Here are four benefits that small groups make more likely:
• Personal discovery
• A greater sense of community
• Deeper friendships
• Opportunity to share

Soon, we’ll be asking you in what kind of small group you would participate. There may be interest in additional small groups centered primarily on hobbies, or physical activity, study, family life (marriage enrichment, parenting), mission, or social interaction. Please take advantage of the good they can bring into your life.

Grace & peace,

Pastor John