As a former seminary and Bible school student, one who is also single, I derive a great many things from a church. One of these is community. I cannot help but ponder ways a sense of community can be delivered more effectively. It’s been part of my life purpose to promote community, but not just any community. Rather, community based on and supporting hearing from the Father by His Spirit and His Word.
Once people receive the revelation of God’s love, how accessing Him is made possible through Jesus, we have a tendency to create beautiful, saved pew potatoes. What is a pew potato? I think it’s clear. A pew potato is like a couch potato only they stay in the pew, where they absorb the teaching and preaching, music and surroundings, sitting next to their friends. One thing that does not happen is that a pew potato does not grow. It doesn’t go into the ground, it doesn’t sprout. It stays pretty static.
One of the greatest things that happened to me when I was introduced to Christ was that I became involved in a youth fellowship of Christian musicians whose leader believed in prayer. He organized us in circles, seated on the floor. We would go around and share what was on our heart, needs, prayers, praise reports. So it was more than prayer but also, really, everyone had an opportunity to preach a word in season as they felt led. You could pass and just absorb, but eventually, everyone wanted to participate. Because a circle inspires transparency which inspires trust and love. A circle brings vibrancy back into the fellowship. We grew close, and we saw mountains moved. In turn, we derived the filling of the Holy Spirit which we imparted to others, lives were changed, other people began encountering and committing to God.
Groups are a way to plug into the body, to be part of the vine that Jesus mentions in John 14-16. They are a way to participate in the living hope we have, not simply bat ideas around.
Our ontological makeup requires both a vertical and horizontal connection. The vertical, the one where we are in communion directly with Him, is where we take in the lifeblood of faith, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter who leads us into all truth. As we grow, this will consume greater chunks of time in your life, daily. It’s only normal to want to spend time with a being like G-D.
The horizontal is our life in community. Whether it is for an occasional evening, or a partnership for a Holy Spirit-inspired project, or a family relationship that is based on Christ, it teaches us oodles. It’s good for getting feedback, and it’s good for seeing others in their faith steps. Which brings me to the subject of small groups. We all need them. They help motivate us to vision and action. They may take up very little time, but with the right people and led by God, they actually promote a flourishing relationship with the Lord all the rest of the week or month. Through them, we lose the fear of sharing our faith, and develop better judgment in how to do so. They assure us and they inspire us. A small group is not only a haven of support, it’s a place to bring someone else needing support. Small groups are endlessly useful and helpful to our walk as believers.
We seem to have mastered church service…we have great music and anointed worship. We have preachers who can lay the Word down in obedience to the voice of the Holy Spirit. We have nice seating and great lighting. There’s so much good in all of this! But I submit that we must also supplement these large gatherings with getting to know one another on a more intimate, committed level. Not as the world does, not to vent or commiserate, but to celebrate, committed to supporting each other in listening to the One Who calls us, sharing our stories of bravely embracing our manifold graces, renewing our minds together to the Word, and just enjoying the love of our wonderful Father.
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, but encourage one another…” Heb 10:25