3 Core Purposes
Almost 8 months ago, our elders and staff took time to do a Bible study together. We were looking to see what activities are outlined in the Bible that MUST be a part of a church for it to be called a church. We found three: Making God Known, A Strategic Go and Developing Disciples. Jesus had a relentless expectation that we be a disciple producing people. To be a church we must Develop Disciples.
Jesus commissioned us to make disciples through baptism and teaching. As a follower of Christ, we must be a part of this plan. The development of our faith and relationship with God takes an intentional effort. This is a daily practice of learning and personal life change.
Discipleship is a group effort. We are all responsible for the spiritual development of someone else by inviting, encouraging, teaching and correcting.
Grow in Groups
Invest in Someone
We can learn in rows, but we only grow in groups. Jesus knew the secret to our growth and development did not exist in our personal search for knowledge. If that were the case, God would have just Fed-Exed a book to us. UPS could have delivered the 10 commandments. Knowledge is not enough. Real life change comes when we interact with people. Israel interacted with Moses, and then Aaron and Joshua. The disciples intereacted with Jesus.
Jesus spent most of his public ministry with 12 men. They traveled together, ate together, learned together, prayed together, served together, and endured persecution together. There is something about the process of discipleship that requires us to be together.
As we meet as a church, we must be about the process of developing disciples. We must be about the task of placing people in groups for the sake of growth. Those groups can be as small as 2 people, and Jesus could handle as many as 12 at a time. There is something about the interelational aspect of a group that helps us grow as individuals.
We all need to be in a group.
noun dis·ci·ple \di-ˈsī-pəl\
This fall, we have seen an increase in the number of people in our LIFE groups. We had 9 new life group leaders step up to lead in 2016. Some of these leaders took the place of some who wanted a break, but at least 7 new groups have been formed. We have approximately 50 new people in groups. That is amazing. Our LIFE group ministry has done a great job this fall helping us to form and grow our groups. Our LIFE group leaders have done a good job consistently meeting and teaching and inviting people into their groups.
I believe that when God grows us deeper, He is ready to grow us larger. This consistent drive for developing disciples makes our church larger as we each get stronger in our faith. But it is not just about us…
We all need to help people into groups. While most of the Gospels are stories of Jesus traveling and teaching, and serving with the disciples... there was a moment that Jesus asked each of them to join Him. Groups grow by personal invitation. If we want to help the church develop disciples, we need to invite people to join our groups. LIFE group is where most of the growth, love and care for the church happens. Here are just a few things that we have seen this fall:
< >In one group a young couple, brand new to MCC, shared the story of their life the very first night. Issues with extended family members, a health issue in a parent, care issues for some nieces and nephews, and a young husband working second shift, not able to help consistently at home filled their story. Just few weeks ago, the wife underwent surgery. The life group arranged meals and listened and prayed. Another member of the group took his resume to his own company, and helped him find a job on the day shift. While God is still working through it all, there is hope where there was desperation before… and friends to walk through it with them. In another, a man shared a prayer concern for a dying friend. She had not accepted Christ and was dying of pancreatic cancer. Her sister was a Christian and the two of them were able to share with her one day in the hospital. When the sister asked if she was ready to accept Jesus, she struggled to say His name out loud. She was that ill. But she did call on Him. The LIFE group cried together as they heard the story of God’s answered prayer.A few weeks ago, Kelly Lowhorn shared with the church the story of how God has been using the learning time in his LIFE group to encourage him as a dad. It was time for a fresh start with his kids. And through sharing and learning, he discovered how that could happen – even with his grown kids. It is never too late to begin to see God’s change in our lives.
Developing disciples is a group activity. And we are committed to growing and starting new groups. We are committing ourselves to the CORE of Jesus’ ministry. We all share the responsibility for the spiritual development of someone else.
These are exciting times to see God at work in our midst. Let’s keep our focus on the CORE of what God wants to do in us. We’ll see you on Sunday,