Easter is an important time of year and it is a time of reflection on the greatest sacrifice in history. This day is when the God of this universe came down to this sinful broken world and did not give us what we deserve, but instead laid down His life for us. The Easter Holiday is also an important time for the life of the local church.
Easter is one of the most attended days of the year. This is for two reasons: 1.) It is when most of the church membership shows up on the same day. 2.) Those that do not regularly go to church are more open to an invitation than normal.
Not only is Easter a great opportunity to invite the neighbor, friend, family member, and co-worker you have been praying for, but we need to ask the question what can we do to help our guests go from guests to disciples of Jesus Christ.
Thom Rainer (President of Lifeway) says, “Small group attendance is the bridge between worship attendance and ministry involvement.”
Eric Geiger (Vice-President of Lifeway) says, “Those who are in some type of group (Sunday School, small group, etc.) are much more likely to display markers of spiritual growth than those not in a group.”
We see the importance of small groups in scripture. All throughout our study in Matthew we have seen Jesus intentionally challenging and training his 12 disciples. In Genesis we learn that we are made in the image of God, who is Himself the perfect community: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So you, as an image bearer, are made to image unified community around the greatest commonality: Jesus Christ. In Acts 2 we see the early church was growing because they were meeting from home to home meeting each others needs. In Galatians 6:2, we are to “bear one another burdens”. As we grow as a church this will be increasingly difficult so we need to seek a way to grow smaller while we are growing larger.
We also see the importance of small groups in the history of our own church. It was not too long ago, you all were meeting to intercede with prayer for Kaley and I.
As an effort to capitalize in the momentum of Easter we will be launching new small groups.
The first small group will be coming April 19th. This will be a Grief Group lead by James Brumfield that will meet once a month on Wednesday night. The goal is not counseling, but discipleship. Our church and our community have had several touched by death already this year and this is one of the ways we as a church can be there for those that are hurting.
Our second small group will be coming after Easter as well. We will be going into a sermon series looking at the importance of small groups that will meet outside of the church building during the week. We will start small and seek to multiply groups in the future. A weakness several churches fall into is when they start something new they start out too large and when the newness wears off the new program loses interest. We want to avoid that by starting small, and growing as we raise up new leaders.
We would love to see five years from now multi-generational small groups meeting all over our county every night of the week and then gathering on Sunday to celebrate what the Lord has done in our lives.
These small groups will have four goals.
Learning: Our Sunday School curriculum does a great job of passing on information about God. So we want our small groups to be different, we want the learning in our small groups not just to be information but practical. Please do not hear what is not being said. Certainly, Bible knowledge is not irrelevant; but it is not enough. Small groups are the place to push past Bible knowledge and on to life application, so that transformation more and more into the image of Christ can be seen in our churches. A transformational small group focuses on everyone giving and receiving hope and help from God’s Word so as to spiritually mature in Christ (Hebrews 10:24-25). In small groups we seek to display what does it look like to a Christian on a Thursday night. What does it look like to be a Christian spouse and parent. What does it look like to be a Christian in the work place. How to rejoice with those that are rejoicing and at the same time weep with those that are weeping. These kinds of things cannot be learned in a classroom setting, but are caught as we are living life together. Without discipleship and multiplication at the heart of our groups, they may become clubs rather than one of our church’s most effective tools.
Intercession: Prayer is the fuel the drives the local body of the church. We as a church have already seen the power of prayer and need to keep this at the center of everything we do.
Fellowship: Fellowship is not just entertainment or socializing. Fellowship is the gathering of believers to talk about the things of God.
Equipping and Evangelism: The final goal will be to be equipping the saints to do the work of ministry. Opening up new opportunities for people to serve and use their gifts (Ephesians 4:11-15). Training up leaders and equipping them to do the ministry. And for Evangelism. We want our small groups to be the new front door of the church. Small groups can be attractive for those who are spiritually inquisitive but suspicious of traditional church. We no longer want to sit back and say come to us, but want our small groups to be a way for us to go to the people. Just as we are actively identifying leaders who can carry on the ministry of the church, our small group leaders need to actively identify and train leaders in their groups to begin groups of their own. Jesus sent you out and you in turn send others out who in turn send out yet others who can use their God-given gifts to expand His Kingdom in our community. Thrown off by these two being together? Don’t be, disciples share the gospel. Those who are growing in Christ tell others about Him. Those who are not growing in their faith are much less likely to articulate the gospel.
April 2nd Morning: Matthew 23
Evening: Matthew 24:1-34
April 9th Matthew 24:36-Chapter 25
April 16th Matthew 28 (Easter)
NO PM SERVICE
April 23rd Life Group Series: Learning
April 30th Life Group Series: Intercession (Lord’s Supper)