No astronaut would ever go into space without a life support system. No deep sea diver would ever go to the ocean depths or soldier ever sent into battle without some kind of support system. In the military it’s a basic unit called a platoon. They support each other, care for each other, watch out for each other and fight for each other.
God never intended for you to go through life on your own. It was never His design for you to face problems, difficulties, tragedies or pressures by yourself. In fact, the very first thing that God said when he made man is, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” You need people in your life. You need relationships because we’re better together. God wired us for community and the basic unit of community is the small group.
In your body, the life support system that keeps you alive is the millions of little cells connecting together. You’re not one big giant cell, you’re millions of little cells. The actual life of your body isn’t in the body, it’s in those small cells.
The same is true spiritually. The church which is called the body of Christ, the life of every church is in the cells. In the small groups. What we are right now is a crowd made up of small groups.
We are gearing up for a season we call a Spiritual Growth Campaign. We call it a campaign because it’s a season where we align many parts of our church. Weekend services, Rock Brook for Kids weekend services along with adult and teen small groups will focus around one theme. We’ll be aligned. And it’s powerful.
Here’s how it will look: come for weekend worship, hear a message and be introduced to the topic and verses for that week, then meet in small group studies for some more insights and an opportunity to discuss. We will have a personal study guide to take you through the campaign. This concentrated time of alignment will bear lasting, fruit in you and your family.
The question of this spiritual growth campaign is: What are you building your life on?
In a world where what’s true and right seems to shift every day, it’s no wonder we can lead confused, unsatisfied lives. Thankfully, God has a plan. He designed values for us to live by. What are your values? Your values are what you’ve decided to be your core beliefs and they shape everything you do.
God’s values won’t crumble or fade with age. They are unchanging. They are eternal. If you build on them, they will last. That’s why this campaign is called: Building Your Life on Values That Last.
So the next 3 weeks of posts will be about preparing us to build our lives on values that last. Let’s start in Acts 2 where we model our Small Groups after. Since many of us will be in a small group let’s answer a couple questions.
- What does a small group actually do according to the Bible?
- How do I get the most out of it?
In Acts 2 is the very first church described in the Bible. It was started in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. They would meet at the temple and then have connections throughout the week in their homes and communities. Primarily, two meetings: large group worship and small group fellowship.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47 NIV
What Do We Do In A Small Group?
1. We study God’s word together.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…” NIV
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine…” KJV
“They committed themselves to learning the teachings of the apostles…” MSG
The whole Spiritual Growth Campaign is built around the Apostles teaching. The truth of the Bible, God’s word, God’s truth. Studying the Bible with a small group is more important to your spiritual health than personal Bible study.
As you drive today and you witness a car accident, who’s going to see more details – one witness or six witnesses? Six pair of eyes are going to see more relevant details than one pair of eyes. The same is true of Bible study. When you study the Bible or reflect on a sermon with other people in a small group you get far more out of it than when you just read it by yourself.
When yo uhave other eyes, they things you don’t see. We all have cultural lenses that when we look at the Bible, we see it from our perspective.
You should read the Bible and study it on your own AND you should study it in a small group.
2. We practice learning how to love
A lot of religions teach that the way you become holy, is by getting away from people. In a lot of religions they claim the holiest person, is the person who goes and lives up on the mountain in the cave so he’s untouched by evil, wicked, mean, bad, nasty humanity.
Jesus came in and blew up that myth. He was in the marketplace, in homes and in a small group. He knew you can’t learn love by yourself.
You learn relational skills in a small group, with people who are different from you. In every small group there are people who need extra grace. You learn how to love them. The theological word, the purpose word for practicing love is called fellowship.
“They devoted themselves to… fellowship” NIV
“They were like family to each other…” CEV
“They committed themselves to… life together…” MSG
3. We eat together.
This is the fellowship of food. The cup of coffee with your small group is going to be your favorite cup of coffee of the week.
“They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts…” (NIV)
“They shared in fellowship meals…” (TEV)
Most of the time when Jesus is teaching the most important things, he’s at a meal or he’s walking. When you’re eating and walking you’re relaxed. When you’re relaxed your tension goes down, you’re barriers and resistance go down and your receptivity to truth is much wider.
It also mentions the breaking of bread a couple of times in this passage. One is talking about fellowship meals. Just eating together. In another place it’s talking about celebrating communion. It’s an act of communing with God, remembering His sacrifice and repenting from our sin. We primarily do communion in small groups.
4. We pray for each other.
There’s additional power when we pray together. God likes agreement and unity in His family, and he blesses it, so we pray for each other.
You pray with the group and you pray for your group. You’ll find, prayer is the one of the most powerful parts of small group. It’s the greatest thing in the world to know that people are praying for you.
5. We help each other.
When we help each other out we’re not just doing something for ourselves or our family. It’s doing something for somebody else because they have a need. That’s small group.
The larger your group becomes, the harder it is to do these five things well. In a small Small Group, you can strengthen each other.
If you aren’t in a small group because of all the unknowns, let’s look at what a small group meeting looks like. Most groups meet for an hour and a half to two hours. In this upcoming Spiritual Growth Campaign, you’ll visit with one another and then you’ll watch a video where the weekend sermon gets a quick recap. There will be some more teaching that you won’t get from a blog post or podcast. You can watch that video on a TV, computer or tablet. There will be places to pause the video to discuss some of the questions in your personal study guide. You’ll share how you can pray for and support each other that week, you’ll pray and go home.
How Can I Get The Most From My Group?
Take a look at these six very simple things to do for this fall spiritual growth campaign. If you do these things you will enjoy your small group and your life will be stronger.
1. Make my group a priority.
Do your best to show up every week. If you only show up every other week then you’re going to miss half of Building Your Life On Values That Last and you’ll only have half a foundation.
“Let us not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV
2. Share my thoughts with humility.
When you enter into the discussion time in your small group you don’t go to show off. You’re not trying to impress people. You leave your ego at the door and come in with the sense of wanting to learn. Come to group to express what you are facing and what you are learning.
“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” Romans 12:16 NLT
Nothing ruins a small group faster than one person in the group acting like they know it all. Humility means being teachable. The Bible says “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Because humble people are teachable. Everyone in your small group can teach you something. Because they have different life experiences than you.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4 NIV
In a world where it’s very easy to be preoccupied with your life, your goals, responsibilities, job and to-do list, let a small group teach you to think of others. The Bible says don’t just be interested in your own life but be interested in the lives of others too. It teaches you to be a better person. You can’t be interested in the lives of everybody, but you could be interested in a few.
3. Respect others ideas with courtesy.
“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.” Romans 14:1
Don’t start quarreling about things that don’t matter yet. Instead, respect where someone is in their journey of Knowing God and be courteous to their fears.
Fears are an interesting thing. They are usually irrational, unreasonable and totally illogical. But the Bible says if you’re going to be Christlike, you’ve got to learn to be considerate of the fears of other people.
4. Share my faults with honesty.
This will take your group go to the next level. Not just faults, but your stresses, problems, pressures, trials, troubles, difficulties. The bad things that are happening. The more you’re able to share the real you, the more you’re going to get out of your group.
“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:7-8
We know everything’s not great in your life, you know it’s not great. So why would you even try to pretend. We just need to admit it. The people who are most open with someone, always have the best success rate.
Sharing your strengths never helps anybody else. You actually help people more by sharing your weaknesses. It bonds you together.
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16
Many people confess their sins to God and they receive forgiveness. But if you want to stop being haunted by that memory or haunted by that hurt, you need to tell one other person. You are only as sick as your secrets.
You don’t have to tell everybody in the group, just find somebody you know you can trust who’s going to love you unconditionally. Our small groups are confidential. There are small group guidelines that say what’s said in the group stays in the group. If it’s not your news to share, don’t share it. If it’s not your sin to confess, don’t talk about it with others.
5. Share others’ problems with sympathy.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
When you go to small group and share a joy, it’s doubled. If you share a sorrow, it’s halved. In either case, sharing is good for you.
“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:26
Do you have anybody like that in your life? More importantly, are you like that to anybody else? Does anyone know that you’re mature enough that you’re unselfish enough and you’re loving enough to show up in their life in their problems when they need you.
That’s where the body of Christ works in the small group.
6. Encourage each other to grow.
Do you have anybody in your life who can spur you on to be a better man or woman of God?
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…” Hebrews 10:24
“I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.” Romans 1:12 NCV
So to get the most out of your walk with God, we want everybody in our church in a small group for this fall. In order to get everyone in a group we need more small group leaders. We will train you to be a small group leader. We have groups meet in homes, basements, kitchens and restaurants.
You don’t have to be a teacher to lead a small group. You just have to open up your home, get a study guide and stream the video. You can do this. You can start a small group for Building Your Life On Values That Last.
Why be small group leader? Because the small group leader always grows the most. That’s our hope for you, too.
Check back on your discussion from last week. How has the serenity prayer brought more peace into your life?
Hear the Word
Read: Acts 2
What does a small group do?
- We study God’s word together
- We practice learning how to love
- We eat together
- We pray for each other
- We help each other
How can I get the most from my group?
- Make my group a priority.
- Share my thoughts with humility
- Respect others ideas with courtesy
- Share my faults with honesty
- Share others problems with sympathy
- Encourage each other to grow
“I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.” Romans 1:12 NCV
- “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…” Take the time to share with your group members what you appreciate about the insights and value they have brought to the group as you have studied together.
- “They committed themselves to… life together…” If love is not a feeling but a commitment, what changes can you make today in your schedule, relationships or attitudes to more fully practice God’s love?
- How does believing God really loves you change the way you view yourself? Think of the thing about yourself you’ve always wanted to change. How might God use that very trait to bring glory to him?
- “If we live in the light as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other… (But) if we claim we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 12:7-8 (NCV) Authenticity. Why do you think it is important to “just be real” in your small group?
- What is the difference between admitting your faults to God and admitting them to each other? How do you think admitting your faults within your small group can help to heal them?
Tell Someone Else
How could this message help someone you know?