At Grace Life we have three primary meeting times and all three occasions serve different functions:
- The Sunday School/Bible Study attempts to serve as a theological teaching time.
- The worship service each Sunday serves as a time of corporate worship and listening to God speak to us through expositional preaching.
- Midweek grace LIFE GROUPS serve as a time of prayer, discussion, and fellowship.
Why do we emphasize participation in a weekly small group? Here are seven reasons. These are not original with me but came from John Piper:
He has given pastors to the church “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11–12). I believe in what I do. And I believe that it is not enough. Here are the seven reasons to participate in our small groups:
- The impulse to avoid painful growth by disappearing safely into the crowd in corporate worship is very strong.
- The tendency toward passivity in listening to a sermon is part of our human weakness.
- Listeners in a big group can more easily evade redemptive crises. If tears well up in your eyes in a small group, wise friends will gently find out why. But in a large gathering, you can just walk away from it.
- Listeners in a large group tend to neglect efforts of personal application. The sermon may touch a nerve of conviction, but without someone to press in, it can easily be avoided.
- Opportunity for questions leading to growth is missing. Sermons are not dialogue. Nor should they be. But asking questions is a key to understanding and growth. Small groups are great occasions for this.
- Accountability for follow-through on good resolves is missing. But if someone knows what you intended to do, the resolve is stronger.
- Prayer support for a specific need or conviction or resolve goes wanting. O how many blessings we do not have because we are not surrounded by a band of friends who pray for us.
So please know that when this small-group ministry of our church is lifted up, I don’t think it’s an optional add-on to basic Christian living. I think it is normal, healthy, needed, New Testament Christianity. I pray that you will be part of one of these small groups.
Beginning in January 2013 we will move from one small group to two small groups. Pray that God would continue to use this time to accomplish Hebrews 10.24-25 in the life of our church.