“Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” ~1 John 4:11
This Sunday the Legacy Church of Christ becomes a Small Groups Church, not just a church that does small groups. The elders and ministers are committed to our church family applying the Word, connecting as a family, and evangelizing our community by meeting in each others’ homes every Sunday evening. And judging by the response—467 adults to date are signed up to participate in 34 different groups—the congregation is also committed to this new and exciting direction.
So many of us already know about all the wonderful things that happen when disciples of Jesus regularly get together to share with each other in their homes. Mutual love and service and hospitality. Mutual sharing of joys and burdens. Strong bonds that develop that can never be broken. The small group becomes a family. A caring and compassionate and Christ-centered family.
Can that atmosphere and that dynamic and that view of life together bleed over to impact the entire congregation? Will our small groups eventually, with time and consistency, transform all of us—those involved in small groups and those who aren’t—into the vibrant congregation as a whole that we all envision?
I think it will.
The power of changed lives is huge. The testimony from changed people draws people. It inspires people. Changed people have a profound impact on people who need to be changed. The people in the Gospel stories, all the crowds, were amazed by those Jesus had touched and healed. They were blown away by the change. The apostle Paul always preached and wrote about how Jesus had so drastically changed his life. And the testimony to changed lives within our small groups will have a similar effect on the body as a whole.
The power of weakness is huge. God is strong when we’re weak. God is glorified in our weakness. He is our rock. He’s our strength and our shield. And the sharing of our struggles and weaknesses in our small groups will open our eyes to see more clearly what our God is doing with us. That open and honest sharing of our problems, together, in our homes on Sunday nights will eventually bleed over into our assemblies on Sunday mornings. It will become a regular thing, not a rare thing, that somebody will go down to the front to confess a sin, to repent from a wrong, to ask for prayers, to share their struggles, and 20 or 30 of their loving brothers and sisters arrive down there at the same time to hug him and pray with him and confess with him. And this becomes a safe place, not the last place, to share our struggles.
More importantly, and most convincingly, the power of our God is huge. It’s not us. It’s God. We can’t forget that. It’s always God. And we turn all of this completely over to him through prayer. God, please change the lives of the people in our group. Lord, please heal this person, forgive that person, open my heart, open my eyes. Bring us one more lost soul, God. Show us, Father, your power and your love and your salvation in our groups.
In Mark 4, Jesus says the Kingdom of God is a farmer who plants a seed. Period. God does everything else. The farmer has no idea how it works. But it does. God makes it grow. God changes it and causes it to produce in wonderful and mysterious ways. It’s all on God.
Let’s all be together in fervent prayer as we jump into Small Groups Church. Let’s be willing to turn every bit of it over to God. And let’s be enthusiastic in our anticipation of all the amazing things our Father is going to do with us through our efforts to be church, not just do church.