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Archive for community

Great value…

I really appreciated the considered comments made by Dave Bish (of Frontiers Exeter) on the value of building effective Small Groups in our churches.

Like Dave, I totally believe in Small Groups as the essential fabric of church life.  Being in community is not our made up scheme, but actually God’s design.  He exists in community, and the model is there for us to observe and draw from.  We also see it outworked by the early church in Acts 2:42-47.

Small Groups are one way the church carrys out effective pastoring.  If you are actively engaged in a Small Group, then you are ‘known’.  When you are known, you can enjoy the spiritual, physical, emotional and practical care of skilful shepherds whom Jesus has given the church.

I also believe in preaching, and the power of God to change people in their seats through it.  The challenge for us is connecting ‘preached truth’ (pulpit-pastoring) with real life outside of Sunday.  Small Groups need to be the context for making this happen, and seeing moments in God truly outworked in an atmosphere of grace and accountability.

When we dont think hard about or neglect the Small Group element of building church (in whatever form it takes), we fail to create sanctifying, gospel-centered communities that strengthen our foundations.

Here are Dave’s helpful thoughts (paraphrased a bit by me!) that argue for the value of robust community-building frameworks :

~ 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 (ie. being provoked but taking no action) is part of our human weakness

~ Listeners in a Sunday crowd 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 Sunday crowd tend to neglect efforts of personal application.  The preach may touch a nerve of conviction, but without someone to press in (like a Small Group pal), it can easily be avoided

~ Opportunity for questions leading to growth are missing.  Sermons are not dialogue……nor should they be.  But asking questions is a key to understanding and to 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, conviction or resolve goes wanting.  How many blessings do we not have because we are not surrounded by a band of friends who pray for us?

Small Groups provide great value and build strong church communities……..