River City Church is a community of believers that is formed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. In addition to gathering weekly for gospel-focused worship, we desire to be in deeper spiritual fellowship with one another. To that end, we are beginning gospel community groups in order to live out the “one anothers” of Scripture. A recent message on this topic can be found here.
A week after this sermon, an article appeared on For The Church by another Acts 29 Church that read like an outline of the message. I will repost this in it’s entirety because it succinctly answers the question: “Why community groups are important for every believer?”
At Redeemer Fellowship there are four ways we encourage members and those looking to be members to grow in their faith. We believe that in order to be a healthy church, we must be in community with each other, be serving in some way, be involved in corporate worship and be exercising private devotion. These four areas make up the Christian life.
In this series of posts I’m going to focus on the community aspect of the Christian experience. I’m going to attempt to answer the basic logical questions. The first basic question is “Why is community important and why should believers be involved in community groups?” (We call our groups “community groups,” but of course you can call them small groups, discipleship groups, missional groups, or whatever other trendy word is out there).
At Redeemer there are 3 reasons we encourage participation in Community Groups. It’s in the explanation of theses reasons that we learn why believers should be involved.
First, we are called to share our lives with other believers. It is necessary for us to be involved in each other’s lives; for devotion, for fellowship, for a meal, and for prayer (Acts 2:42).
It is in the context of community that the people of God grow in their affection for each other. We all, from time to time, need a brother or sister in Christ to be speaking God’s truth into our lives. There are also times when we lovingly and graciously need to speak truth into their lives as well. True growth in the gospel can’t happen apart from community. The New Testament makes this apparent with all the “one another” passages.
Secondly, it’s important to distinguish between the corporate worship gathering and the smaller community gathering. The purpose of corporate worship is the exaltation of God through singing, the Word, and the sacraments. The smaller community gathering is where faith becomes practical and real. While corporate worship is central to church life, it doesn’t and can’t be the entirety of the Christian experience.
We need a safe, encouraging environment where we can take what we’ve learned about God and apply it to life … and that’s where community groups come in. We all need a space where we can get help figuring out where our gospel blind spots are; while at the same time helping others see theirs. This leads us to our final reason.
Thirdly, community is the context best suited for discipleship, gift discovery, and service. Discipleship only happens in the context of relationship. These relationships are necessary if we are to grow in holiness. We aren’t smart enough to figure it out on our own. We weren’t designed to go through life on our own. We are designed, by our Creator, for relationship; with Him and with each other.
It is in the context of community where we are safe to explore how God has designed us and for what purpose. He has uniquely gifted each of us for His service and to be of service to each other. Most of us require the eye of another to see it because our pride gets in the way.
Simply put, Community Groups are necessary because God’s people need a place and space to cultivate biblical, gospel-centered, and missional relationships.