YOUTHS TO VISIT CHILDREN’S HOME
As announced before, some of our youth are planning another project, designed with the young people in mind. This time, the plan is TO VISIT A CHILDREN’S HOME in Spanish Town on April 5, 2020, at 1:00pm. .
Preesta2020 is the first of four Youth LINK-UPs scheduled for this year. The event, which is a get-together for church and non-church youth, is programmed to take place pre-Easter (at the name may suggest) and will usually fall on the Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter Sunday. This year, Preesta2020 falls on April 5.
SPECIAL YOUTH SERVICE BEING CONSIDERED
Because the visit to the children’s home is scheduled to take place on the same day as Preesta2020, a special church service is being planned for Sunday, April 5, starting at 9:00am. The hope is that any non-church youth opt to attend the service, will be moved to attend another service, probably on Easter Sunday, the following Sunday. Please pray that the project will have a positive impact on the youth.
SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN
If you’d like to help our SM campaign be more effective, here’s how you can help:
- If you’re on Facebook, LIKE us www.facebook.com/GraceCommunionJM .
- If you’re on Instagram, FOLLOW us at www.instagram.com/GraceCommunionJM.
- If you’re on Twitter, FOLLOW us at www.twitter.com/GraceCommunion.
BIBLE STUDY COURSE ONLINE
Some time ago, we announced plans for a Bible Class on Sundays. However, it seems only a few will attend the classes on Sundays … so we’ve started to put some lessons online. The project is a work in progress, but to access the lessons …
- go to www.gracecommunionjm.org/courses
- select the course you want to explore
- register for the course … by navigating to the bottom of the page … and typing in your name, a username for the site and a password.
- start the course whenever you are ready.
As soon as the online course is available, how to access the class material online will be announced. Watch this space for updates.
This week’s theme is God’s glory goes with us. In Exodus 33, Moses asks God to send his glory with Israel and then to show Moses his glory. Psalm 99, this week’s call to worship, is a historical poem of God’s glory going with them through the desert as a pillar of cloud. Matthew 22 tells about Jesus’ confrontation with the Pharisees overpaying taxes and Jesus reminds us that God’s imprint is on us, so we belong to him. Our sermon is based on 1 Thessalonians 1, in which Paul talks about God’s glorious transformation of us and the life he has called us to live in response.
Paul’s Three-Dimensional Witness
Have you ever had a mentor? A person in your life who sat with you and walked you patiently through learning something they themselves already knew very well? Most of us don’t have to look too far in our own history to find that coach, pastor, boss, older cousin or whoever it was who taught us how to pick up a skill, but more importantly how to live life.
How did that mentor approach you? Were they careful, calm, and patient? The ones we remember usually are. We can also remember the abusive, driving bosses and authority figures, but we wouldn’t usually call them mentors.
Think about a mentor who was important to you and took time to teach you patiently, even while holding high expectations. Do you know someone who gave you high support, high challenge, and grace always? This could be an interesting discussion, depending on the size of your fellowship.
Paul approached this fledgling church in Thessalonica as a loving mentor. That’s one of the main themes that threads through this introductory section: he loves them dearly and is praising the progress they’ve made.
We often think of Paul as a bit of a fighter, often speaking the voice of rebuking and correction rather than consolation. We’re used to his near-violent rebuke of the false teachers who are trying to infiltrate his communities and undermine the high standards he lives by and expects of those he’s been ministering too.
But Thessalonians shows us a different side of Paul, which I think is probably the side he prefers to live in if he can. He starts this letter with gentle praise and great love.
Let’s look at three points Paul makes in this passage. He talks about:
We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 ESV)
This sounds like a normal and warm greeting, but then as you read the letter, you might wonder about Paul. The letter was written to people who are preaching other doctrines and preaching against Paul. They lived in a promiscuous culture, and men were free to engage in sexual activity with almost no boundaries. Their theology is messed up—seemingly inserting different gods into their daily lives. Yet Paul praised them for their work of faith, labor of love and steadfastness of hope.
Let’s keep in mind that for the Jewish believers, the gospel was completely scandalous. We know from Acts 17 that the members of the Jewish community in Thessalonica followed Paul to the next town where he ministered so they could start a riot and endanger his life!
The believers in Thessalonica had bad theology, bad morality, and a distorted opinion of Paul. Yet, Paul is thankful because of what he’s heard about their faith and growth in Christ. He’s thankful because of their growth, not their perfection.
Every 12-step meeting you go to you will hear the phrase: “We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.” That’s where Paul meets this community—I’m so thankful for you! I hear such good things about you! You are following Christ; you know who you are.
He thanks God for them and reminds them who they are.
For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 ESV)
He comes in as the loving mentor here, starting with genuine praise and joy in the progress this community is making. The smoldering wicks and bruised reeds abound here—Greeks just in from their licentious religious life, Jews who’ve been rejected by their community for their newfound faith.
Paul gently blows on the embers of their faith, encouraging them to continue. Not to be perfect, just to keep going, to know their identity in Christ.
Have you ever had someone encourage you like that? (Take a moment to think about this and say a short prayer of praise to God for bringing that person into your life.) Is there someone in our lives that we need to encourage in this gentle way—meeting them where they are?
You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. (1 Thessalonians 1:5-7 ESV)
As new Christians, this community was an unheard-of blend of Jews and Greeks worshipping in the same house. For the Jews, the theology of Christ was a scandal. For the Greeks, the moral demands of this new faith were a scandal. Both people groups had been broken out of their background and community.
Think of walking into a new school or job or culture. You’re disoriented and don’t know what to do. You can research online before you get there—read, download articles—but when you get there it’s like a bucket of cold water to the face.
Your first instinct is to imitate. Look around, see what other people are doing. No one was more disoriented than Paul. He was a model Israelite, even to the degree of killing people of this new Jesus cult. Then he’s miraculously converted, losing every point of reference he has, and he is called to associate with Gentiles, whom he had looked down on his whole life.
In a matter of a few years, he lost every coordinate he’d ever known. He can easily relate to people who are coming into the church and are disoriented by the social differences. More than anyone, he can say: “If you’re a little lost, I’ll show you the ropes!”
Imitation. One of the most important parts of mentoring. We learned from what our mentors did more than what they said—we watched and mimicked.
Paul can confidently say: you watched us live this Jesus life. You saw our integrity, love, boldness and joy. He was a three-dimensional witness to them. He didn’t put on a church face or a church act, but he lived alongside them.
That, brothers and sisters, is our greatest witness. That is fulfilling the new commandment to love as Jesus loves. We are called to present not just a theology or a belief system, but a life worth imitating.
There’s a fun story of Billy Graham, a devotee both of Christ and golf. He went on celebrity golf tours and had plenty of pictures of himself swinging as well as preaching.
On one private golf outing, the caddy didn’t know who he was. Billy got off to a rough start and maxed out on strokes on the first hole. The caddy, used to hearing a loud chorus of profanity and abuse when this happened, was surprised to see this golfer just quietly keep playing.
Finally, he asked, “So are you some sort of preacher or something?”
Billy casually said, “Yeah. I’m sort of a preacher.”
Maybe a silly example, but an exchange someone wrote about decades later! Billy Graham, the most famous pastor in the world, quietly practiced what he preached. He didn’t claim who he was and then put on his perfect face. He lived with the gentleness and self-control of the Spirit because that’s who he was!
So, Paul is able to confidently say, “You saw our witness in 3-D. We were there with you. You’ve seen how this plays out.” Further, he praises them because their example inspired others to imitate them.
For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God… (1 Thessalonians 1:8-9 ESV)
… and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10 ESV)
Imminence is a five-dollar word to describe the very-soon coming of Christ. Christ is coming imminently; he will be here soon. Paul taught that Christ had come to begin the kingdom and he would come back someday to finally establish it.
But the issue became, as you can see later in the Thessalonian letters, that people really liked the idea of escaping the world when Christ came. They thought: Great, now we don’t have to work or pay back our credit cards or figure out our various church tension issues—Jesus will be back any time now!
People had quit working and otherwise looking after their living, and Paul was explicit in his correction. To know Christ isn’t just to have some kind of apocalypse insurance or escape hatch, it’s not to be in the “in crowd” and give up on the difficult journey of being human. To know Christ was to have a new kind of life.
To know Christ isn’t to escape life, but to fully live it.
To jump ahead, Paul lays out that life for them later in this letter:
And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 ESV)
This is not some kind of picture of an elitist cult hiding away until the end, nor a caustic band of doomsayers cursing the world. This is a life very much in the world, living in the simplicity of confidence in who the true Lord of the world really is.
- Because we believe the return of Christ is imminent, so we live life fully today.
- Because we are in touch with the Creator, we can fully enjoy the creation as it was meant to be enjoyed—with all the good foods and good relationships that it includes.
- Because we know the Redeemer, we can live as redeemed people, sharing that grace and believing that those who are counted lost can be restored.
- Because we know love, we can show love.
So today, let your witness be three-dimensional, showing grace to those who are growing and an attractive love to those who don’t know Christ yet.
Identity: Paul rejoices because of this church’s fledgling growth—as misdirected and imperfect as it is. Christ rejoices that we are identified by him and celebrates our growth even though he knows our confused and misguided hearts.
Imitation: Let’s live the gospel just as much, if not more so, than sharing it verbally. May people see us as Christ-followers before we even have a chance to tell them we are.
Imminence: To know Christ is to be fully and wholly human, to live our daily lives in a way that shines his glory while drawing on his strength.
Small Group Discussion Questions
Questions for Speaking of Life:
- Our Speaking of Life episode focused on the conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees about taxes (render unto Caesar). What does it mean in our normal 21st century lives to render to Caesar and render unto God?
- God’s likeness is stamped on us, just as Caesar’s likeness was stamped on these coins. What does it mean to be made in God’s image and likeness? Does that change our understanding of God and ourselves?
Questions for sermon:
- Have you ever had a mentor who changed your life? Did they strike the balance between graceful encouragement and high standards?
- The Thessalonian believers had had to make a break with culture and heritage to embrace their identity in Christ (see v. 9). Have you ever had to make a similar change in thinking/direction? What were the results?
- Because we know where history is going, we can live more fully and joyously in the present (see John 10:10). Is this your experience of the Christian life? Why or why not?
Quote to ponder: “This sense of being made in God’s image calls us all constantly to look for it in others and to do what we can to help them acknowledge it and to realize it by joining in worship. We thereby carry to others the answer to their inmost longing, a yearning for union with the Trinity, a thirst to respond with adoration to the God who made them.” ~~Marva Dawn, theologian and professor
The Gospel in ‘P‘s is one way of helping persons understand the good news of the Gospel in a way that can help them explain it to others easier. It’s all about Purpose, Problem, Provision and Potential.
By ‘Purpose‘, we are referring to God’s Purpose for creating Adam and, by extension, humans.
Genesis 1:11, 21, 24-25 God made all living things according to their kind, but …
Genesis 1:26 God made Adam in the image of God.
Genesis 1: 27-28 God gave humans “dominion” over all other creatures.
Genesis 3:22 “… lest he … take also of the tree of life … and live forever.”
After making plants, animals and other creatures according to their “kind”, God made Adam in His image (in a sense, according the God kind). Why would He have done that?
Given that God made Man in His image (Gen.1:26), with the potential to live forever (Gen.3:22) and then giving them dominion over all other living creatures (Gen.1:27-28) … It seems fairly safe to conclude that He wanted a relationship with humans that was not only vastly different, but incredibly special and intended to last forever.
In a word, then, God’s purpose for creating Man was RELATIONSHIP.
By ‘Problem‘, we are referring to Man’s Problem, which caused Adam and his descendants to not achieve the incredible potential that God had intended.
Genesis 2:16-17 God commanded Adam to NOT eat of a certain tree, but …
Genesis 3:1-6 Adam, like his wife, ate of the forbidden tree.
Romans 5:12 Because of Adam’s disobedience, sin and death spread to all humans.
Romans 3:23; 6:23 All (humans) have sinned … and deserved to die as a result.
Genesis 3:23-24 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden … 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
- Man was denied access to the tree of life (effectively, separated from the Holy Spirit)
- Man’s real PROBLEM was separation from God … SIN was just the CAUSE.
- Isaiah 59:1-2 Behold, the Lord‘s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
- Sin, then, was the CAUSE of Man’s Problem.
- However, sin was only a part of Man’s problem. There was another part to Man’s problem — the reason he couldn’t solve his problem.
Romans 8:7 Natural (unconverted) man does not (indeed, cannot) submit to God’s law.
1 Corinthians 2:11 No one can know things of God without the Spirit of God.
Romans 5:12, 14 Adam’s sin resulted in the (spiritual) death of all humans.
Ephesians 2:1-3 Man was (spiritually) dead, even though he “walked” (was physically alive).
In a word, Man’s PROBLEM was SEPARATION. However, while Man’s problem was caused by SIN … it was perpetuated by DEATH.
- SIN was what caused Adam (and his descendants) to deserve the death penalty …
- … but it was (spiritual) DEATH (Genesis 2:16-17) that made it impossible for Man to do anything to help himself. (See the last part of Romans 8:7 again.)
- It is not that carnal (unconverted) Man MAY NOT submit to God’s law; rather, it is that he CANNOT submit to it.
- The reason carnal Man cannot submit to God’s law is because he is spiritually dead … which, incidentally, is the same reason he cannot repent or believe or do anything to cause God to save him.
Man’s separation left Man helpless … and hopeless. There was NOTHING that Man could do to help (or save) himself … so God had to do something. God had to provide a way … and He did. What was that provision?
In the Gospel of ‘P’s, ‘Provision‘ refers to God’s Provision — of a solution to Man’s Problem — what God did rescue Man from certain death. Given that Man’s Problem was two-pronged (sin and death), God’s Provision also had to deal with those two prongs. So, how did God address the problem?
John 3:16, 17 God sent His Son to save the world (all humans).
1 Timothy 1:15 Jesus came into the world to save sinners
Luke 9:56 The Son of Man came to save men’s lives.
Luke 19:10 The Son of Man came to save the lost.
John 1:29 Jesus took away the sin of the world.
Hebrews 9:26 Jesus put away sin by sacrificing Himself
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 The gospel Paul preached was that Christ died for our sins … and rose again.
1 Corinthians 15:20-23 Christ has risen from the dead … and just as in Adam all die, in Christ all will be made alive … but not all at the same time.
Romans 5:6-11 when we were without strength, Christ died for us … God showed His love for us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us … being justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him … For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, then, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by his life … Not only that, we can rejoice in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the atonement.
God dealt with Man’s Problem, totally, by becoming a man, in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. In and through Jesus Christ, God solved Man’s problem, completely, by conquering the two prongs of Man’s problem. By His death, Jesus conquered sin; by His resurrection, He conquered death.
The real good news, however, is that … when He died, He died for us, paying the penalty for our sins … and when He rose from the dead, He rose for us, making it possible for us to have eternal life with God.
In the next section, on the Potential, we’ll look at how that was possible. Suffice it to say, for now, that God’s Provision — His perfect solution for Man’s Problem — is JESUS CHRIST.
When we speak of ‘Potential‘, we are speaking of Man’s Potential, which he now has … as a result of what Jesus has accomplished. That potential has been realized, not only because of Christ’s death and resurrection, but also because of His incarnation.
John 14:20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
- Jesus told the apostles they were in Him as He spoke to them … even before they had received the Holy Spirit on the day o fPentecost.
Acts 17:24-28 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
Ephesians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Colossians 1:16 for hoti in en him autos all pas things ho were created ktizō, in en · ho heaven ouranos and kai on epi · ho earth gē, things ho visible horatos and kai · ho invisible aoratos, whether eite thrones thronos or eite dominions kyriotēs, whether eite principalities archē or eite powers exousia— all pas things ho have been created ktizō through dia him autos and kai for eis him autos.
- In Him (Christ), all things (including humans) were created.
What does all this mean? It means that, because of the of the incarnation of the Word – as Jesus – we were in Him when He died … in Him when He was buried … in Him when He rose from the dead … and in Him when He ascended to the Father.
Ephesians 2:1-7 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Romans 5:1-2 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Romans 5:9-10 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
2 Corinthians 5:17-20 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
We have been reconciled to God … in Christ … and yet Paul is exhorting his readers to be reconciled. Why? It is because reconciliation is a two-way street … requiring repentance AND forgiveness.
Well, here’s some good news … the offended party (God) has already forgiven us (whether we know it or not) … and all we need to do (to be fully reconciled) is repent (by believing God has indeed forgiven us.
Man’s ‘Potential‘, then, in two words, is RIGHT RELATIONSHIP.
- Small groups help to promote the spiritual formation of members and friends though Bible study, prayer and fellowship.
- Small groups are more effective than larger groups in doing ministry.
- Small groups help to develop a Christian community, being Christ-like to one another and sharing the fullness of His life with others.
- Small groups are more likely to promote transformation more routinely.
- Small groups help the pastors and elders shepherd (disciple and care for) the members of the congregation.
- Small groups remind us that God’s nature (as a Trinity) is communal. (Genesis 6:4, 1:26)
- Small groups are a great way for members to meet Christ. (cf. Matthew 18:15-20)
- Small groups provide opportunities to love and support one another.
- Small groups provide opportunities to be involved in the congregation and in one another’s lives.
- Small groups tend to be more faith-focused … with richer prayer, stronger devotion to God, following the Scriptures.
- Small groups are excellent for expanding the reach of the church.
- Small groups are good for adding new members, cultivating new leaders … and birthing new groups.
- Small groups take us outside of our church walls and into the community.
- Small groups are great for developing new leaders.
BENEFITS OF SMALL GROUPS
- Better understanding of how to apply principles in the Bible.
- Strength for the storms in life
- Practice in modeling Christ
- Nurturing for relationships
- wisdom for making important decisions
- mutual accountability, which is vital for spiritual growth
- acceptance that helps repair our wounds
- venues to invite others to meet Christ
- new leaders to become disciple-makers for Christ
- greater unity and sense of purpose
- greater dependence on God
- healthy interdependence, through mutual sharing
- spiritual formation
With those benefits in mind, we hope to develop groups that are LOVING, INCLUSIVE AND INVOLVED, FAITHFUL AND EVANGELISTIC.
We don’t want to be a church that “does small groups.” We want to be a church “of small groups.”
That means that much, if not most, of our ministry will be done through our small groups. It also means that CELL group meeting must have scheduling priority over all other Church activities.
MORE THOUGHTS …
Discipleship occurs in life on life situations. Through learning, eating, celebrating, and grieving together scripture is brought to life and place sharing occurs. In shared spaces we encounter the living Christ in our relationships.
The power of a small group is not the content provided but the relationships that develop. The conversational style of small groups facilitates a space for vulnerability to occur, and intimacy and accountability to flow. Questions and answers in a safe space allows for personal discovery and gospel transformation to follow. In a smaller setting we are transformed both individually and as a whole.
The atmosphere of a small group is a great entry point for a visitor or person unfamiliar with church. Meeting in a home and with fewer people is more comfortable than a large group setting with unfamiliar rituals and routines. The faith venue is the connecting point between the church and the community.
Scripture provides a basis for small groups:
“Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.” (Acts 5:42)
“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.” (Acts 2:46)
“You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.” (Acts 20:20)
“Greet also the church that meets at their house.” (Romans 16:5)
“Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their home.” (1 Corinthians 16:19)
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising 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)
The early church provides a picture or glimpse of small groups in Jerusalem:
- Characterized by devotion to both the proclaimed word and to the fellowship of the believers
- Deep relationships were being built in the context of a common zeal for God
- Atmosphere thick with faith as miracles were taking place on a regular basis
- People were getting together for prayer and fellowship both at the temple and in each other’s homes
- People were demonstrating their love and commitment to one another by sharing their possessions
- Aroused the attention of people who were impacted by the things that God was doing in the church and through His people.
The picture the Bible paints clearly shows people who met together outside the walls of the temple where they were able to “be the church.” The early church was a community of people who were intricately involved in each other’s lives as an extended family. They were heeding the words of Jesus to love one another like a family. Meeting in each other’s homes was the natural result of what God was doing and what God was telling them to do.
Affirmation – encourage and love one another as Christ loves you; help each other grow and mature spiritually; build each other up in the faith.
Availability and Accountability – be available to your group members; be willing to commit your time and resources, appropriately, as evidence of your commitment to serve one another. (Proverbs 11:14) Leaders must serve others, (Matthew 20:26-28) Leaders should sacrifice for others, and (Hebrews 13:17) Leaders give an account to God for their actions.
Prayer – a strong, powerful value in small groups. It encourages each one to be humble, feel valued knowing that God wants to and will move to answer the prayer concerns of your group.
Be joyful – in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12).
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God (Philippians 4:6).
God hears you – The Lord is far from the wicked but he hears the prayers of the righteous (Proverbs 15:29).
Openness – authentic relationships begin with being honest and transparent with each other and by having an open mind that expects others to join the group (the empty chair in the room).
Honesty – speaking the truth in love, so that “we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is Christ” (Ephesians 4:15)
Safety and Confidentiality – guard your honest, open relationships (express the expectations of the group in your covenant). What is discussed in your group should remain confidential in your group. Remember confidentiality promotes openness.
Evangelism – expands the community of believers. Share your faith and invite others into the group or other areas of the church.
GROUP LEADER – Please see the next tab.
APPRENTICES – an apprentice is a servant-leader who assists the SGLeader to learn how to facilitate their own group. An apprentice is to take an active role in loving and caring for the members of the small group. They are to be actively learning what the leader does and does not do. The apprentice should be actively dialoguing with the group facilitator both before and after the group meetings. Apprentices should also be participating in every facilitator training offered. They should be available to help the SGLeader in any way that is needed to serve the small group. Apprentices should always be praying, planning and preparing to start their own small group. SGLeaders should constantly keep their eyes open for an apprentice to develop.
HOSTS – a host or a hostess is a hospitable person who makes their home available for the small group meetings, should the home of the SGLeader not be used. They help make the meetings as warm and welcome as possible. This involves making sure there is adequate seating, comfortable temperature, proper lighting, refreshments are organized, etc. They also greet people when they arrive, helping them feel welcome and at home. The SG Host has the important ministry of hospitality. They accomplish this ministry by thinking about the needs of the guests. It is the host’s responsibility to eliminate distractions that could hinder a person from being able to focus on spiritual matters because of an uncomfortable atmosphere. The host’s job is to make sure people feel completely welcomed and wanted. Hosts are likely to be the first people with whom newcomers come in contact, so they have a tremendous opportunity to initiate an atmosphere of love and acceptance to all who walk through their doors.
GROUP MEMBERS – everyone in the small group should be actively involved in serving the group in some way. Group members should be willing to learn, have a servant’s heart and have a deep commitment to Jesus Christ. Be sure to review the Small Group Member Fact Sheet at the start of the first small group session.
Ensure that each new members added to the group receives a copy of the Member Fact Sheet. Encourage members to read the sheet again in their private time