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 in-the-moment hearing from the Father. Doing this takes practice.
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.
If your church offers small groups, go. Find one or start one but get into one. It’s one of the main ways to plug into the body, to be part of the vine that Jesus mentions in John 14-16.
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. It’s the sap for the vine, made possible by being alone with the Word, expressing your thoughts and casting your fears on Him, listening to the voice of His Spirit. 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 and He brings us vital renewal.
The horizontal is our life in community. Though it might only take an occasional evening, it teaches us oodles. It’s good for getting feedback, and it’s good for seeing others in action and learning from that. Small groups help motivate us to vision and action. They may take up very little time, but they actually promote a flourishing relationship with the Lord all the rest of the week or month. You can’t get this in a church service, though a service is a time of corporate worship and unity. Small groups will teach you how to forge relationships that will also be there when you need prayer from someone who has personal knowledge of your life and struggles, and who cares. Soon, you’ll find you’ll be able to be there for someone else.
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, but encourage one another…” Heb 10:25