It's that time of year again! Church announcements are filled with info. about Small Groups and why everyone should join one. This past Sunday we had about 300 adults attend our services and they all heard about this opportunity to connect with others around scripture, prayer, fellowship, and mission. Yet, through the years, we've found that about 1/3 of Sunday attendees actually heed the call to engage in this more intimate experience of Christian growth known as the small group.
And I get it! We are all busy. We've got schedules that are filled with REALLY important stuff. Most of us are tired by the end of the day and don't think we can squeeze in one more thing. It could be that this fatigue (physical, emotional, spiritual) we feel is actually a lack of oxygen for our shriveling souls. I'd like to propose that gathering with a smaller group of Christians on a regular basis is something that could save our faith from suffocating from lack of spiritual oxygen.
If you've spent any time reading the New Testament, you've read about the necessity of being in fellowship with other believers. Some of these are expressed in commands sometimes called "one another" verses. For example:
welcome one another (Romans 15:7)
love one another (John 13:34)
through love serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
confess your sins to one another (James 5:16)
pray for one another (James 5:16)
These kinds of things are hard to do when sitting in a room full of people on Sunday singing songs and listening to a sermon. God has designed the Christian life in such a way that in order to mature, one must link their lives with at least a few other Christ followers. We encourage people at MERCYhouse to "devote themselves to a few like family".
Doing the Christian life alone is a lot like trying to scuba dive without adequate oxygen. God insists that we require more air than what is coming from our individual tank. Hard as we might try to survive listening to sermons, reading a few scripture verses, and going it alone, it will never be enough. The small group environment creates an experience of sharing some of our oxygen with others and they with us. As we do so, we (and they), end up being spiritually oxygenated. This is the work of the Holy Spirit (the breath of God) among us when we join together as family.
The ancient church understood this well and devoted themselves to joining together on a regular basis. We learn in the second chapter of Acts that they met in the temple courts (larger group to hear the teaching of God's truth) and in homes (smaller groups to grow in fellowship).
"And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts" (Acts 2:46)
As they did this God breathed air into their spiritual lungs and they went forth in boldness to demonstrate and proclaim the gospel. So this semester commit yourself to joining with others to grow together in the fresh air of fellowship.
Small groups start next week (week of Sept. 17th). See this link for details!