You may be a little confused or interested in finding out what exactly a disciple-making small group is. Maybe you’ve been a part of a Sunday School class in the past or you are currently attending one of our Growth Groups.
Most of the time we only think of a classroom that is focused on the HEAD (learning knowledge) which is not bad in and of itself. But if that is all a Bible study group does then it falls way short of God’s intention to grow us all into the image of Christ.
Read Acts 2:42-47 again!!
Did the early church do more than just learn the apostles teaching? Yes. As important as doctrine and theology is (you should know me by now that I am very concerned about this), there is also more to church life than just acquisition of knowledge.
We see many things that marked the early church in Acts. Fellowship. Breaking bread together. Prayer. Worship. Having things in common and sharing both life and possessions. Meeting real needs. Being joyous and generous. Seeing God add to their number through His sovereign grace in salvation.
And there is a key word that is used by Luke to show us the passion of the early church. They were “devoted” to these things. The word “devoted” means to have an intentional, passionate, diligent pursuit of and tenacity toward teaching, fellowship, worship, prayer, meeting needs, and being the body of Christ.
You can only do so much of this on a Sunday morning in a worship service. How many of you feel comfortable stopping me in the middle of my sermon to ask for more clarification about a point? How many of you feel like you truly know the person you’re sitting next to? How many of you can truly experience the meeting of needs and fellowship and fervent prayer in the context of 2 hours on Sunday morning?
As great as our times of worship can be together as we gather to sing, hear the Word preached, celebrate the Lord’ Supper, give tithes and offering, and praise His name, if that is all we experience in our Christian life, we are sorely missing out on what it means to be conformed to the image of Christ.
A disciple-making small group can be a really great context or vehicle for you to experience a growth in your identity in Christ and your obedience to Christ together in community.
Most typical small groups or Sunday School classes are geared toward information, not transformation or obedience. They are geared toward the head, not so much toward the heart, hands, and mouth. There is usually an inconsistent level of involvement and little expectations of members except to basically show up. There is also usually no emphasis upon evangelism or sending people out on mission.
While having a good Bible study is crucial and we would never want anything less, we also want everyone connected with Emmanuel to be conformed to the mage of Christ in a gospel-centered culture.
How do you truly know that you are living out your identity in Christ and being obedient to Christ if you never connect with other believers who are on the same journey with you in community?
Spend some time in prayer asking God to give you wisdom as you move through this journey. What specific challenges will you face? What particular commitments is He asking you to make?
Dear Father in Heaven,
I need wisdom. I see very clearly in Scripture that I was created to be in fellowship with other believers in a smaller group setting. I really want to be “devoted” to your teaching, prayer, fellowship, and others in my church family. Help me to know how to move forward. Please grant me wisdom.
I desperately need You,