Last night, we met with 15 people in our living room. After sharing a meal together to which we all contributed, we had a great time discussing the reason for and benefits of small groups - or community groups as we now call them.
I wanted to share a brief summary of our discussion because I know it will be beneficial to those who are new at SGCP and who might not be involved yet in a community group.
Also, because we all can drift, I’m writing this post to help those of us who have known and experienced community groups in the past, but need to be reminded of the spiritual benefits and encouragement of belonging to one.
The Four Purposes of Community Groups:
1. Spiritual Growth (sanctification)
2. Mutual Care
4. Ministry of the Holy Spirit
1. Spiritual Growth or sanctification
“Sanctification is the progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.” (Grudem)
What that looks like in our lives: being committed to helping one another grow in godliness / Christlikeness, willing to celebrate what God is doing in our lives, and willing to receive and give input into each other’s lives that help each other recognize areas of needed growth.
2. Mutual Care - caring for one another
Acts 2:42 - And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers
1 Cor. 12:24-27 But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
What it looks like: recognizing the priority of the relationships God has ordained, we will commit ourselves to be available to care for each other in various ways as needed: sharing burdens, rejoicing in victories, being available to help care for those we are connected to. Practically, this can mean helping bring meals to those who are sick, or new moms, helping people move, sending a note of encouragement, shooting off a quick email letting someone know you’re praying for them.
3. Fellowship- sharing with each other the grace of God in your lives.
Examples of what it can look like: spending time with each other, sharing meals, going out for coffee, encouraging and praying for each other, spurring one another on to growth in godliness.
4. Ministry of the Holy Spirit - see 1 Cor. 12:8-10, Eph. 4:11, Rom 12:6-8, and 1 Peter 4:10,11
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10,11
God has given his body many and various gifts in order to build up, and encourage us. Small group is a context in which we can make ourselves available to the Holy Spirit and practice these gifts - words of wisdom and knowledge, mercy, serving, administration, healing, prophecy, discernment, etc.
What it can look like: be praying throughout the week about community group and for those in your group. Come prepared to encourage, share scripture, pray for others. Exercise the gifts God has given you to build up and edify those in your group.
The discussion we had last night was designed to clarify and better understand the purposes of community group. We closed our time by praying and making a fresh commitment to devote ourselves to these purposes and to each other - for God's glory!