At Journey Church, we like to say we are a church of small groups not a church with small groups. Admittedly, it’s a tough culture to build and we are not there yet. To help people see and embrace the biblical value of community in such an independent culture like America is a difficult thing. The very thing we need so much (biblical community) is the very thing we fight against so strongly. The bottom line is this: if we are too busy for relationships, we are just too busy. As author Gary Smalley said, “Life is relationships; the rest is just details.”
My wife and I have lived this way for years. We have made community a value in our lives that we are not willing to compromise. Even when I was in traveling ministry for five years, I made sure I was home every Monday evening to lead and be a part of a Life Group through our home church. Now that we are lead pastors, we are usually either leading or participating in a Life Group each semester.
This semester, we happen to be participating in one rather than leading one. It’s in our home but we are not facilitating the group. It has been so refreshing and rich simply to be a part of and contribute to this group. A couple from our church (married for 32 years and walking with the Lord even longer) are facilitating/leading the group.
One of the beautiful things about biblical small groups is the perspective it brings. Our own perspective is one-dimensional. Breaking open the word of God together allows us to see things in ways we have never seen, and our faith and perspective becomes multi-dimensional rather than one-dimensional. Here is an example;
This past week as we studied righteousness and self-control from 2 Peter, we came across these passages:
For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17 NIV,italics mine)
Additionally, self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, no different than love, joy and peace. It’s a work God does on the inside as we yield to Him.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)
As we talked and shared that night, I began to have a revelation. I feel like I’ve had somewhat of a revelation of grace, but nights like this one remind me how far I have yet to go in the grace of God. Through the small group I noticed how easy it is for me to live by grace in some areas and not in others. I realized I had not been living by grace in the areas of righteousness and self-control. They are gifts to be received, not a status to strive for. Like any gifts provided by Jesus’ work on the cross, we simply receive them by grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8-10). God has already provided the gifts and we simply receive them by faith! This set me free as I saw I had been striving for righteousness and self control instead of receiving them by faith.
This is why I love small groups! God really does speak through his people and uses others to sharpen, encourage, and correct us. I am grateful so grateful for God’s people and biblical community.
Why do you love small groups?