READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary | Feeling excluded, disconnected in church? Frustrated by a lack of genuine interaction? Why and how is the small group community key in disciple making?
God is relational. He breathed His Spirit into MAN (Genesis 2:7), intending for a personal relationship that no other creation could enjoy. As we commune with Him as His people, God also gave us one another to relate with as a community in Christ. God saw it was not good for man to be alone. (Genesis 2:18) He gives us one another to love and live as ONE community, to be authentic in our sharing, and to hold each other accountable to follow after Christ.
More than companionship, community offers comfort and assistance. God gave the 10 Commandments to safeguard our relationship with Him, and the community relationships He gives us – with family, with small group members, in church, and in the marketplace. Jesus tells us there is no commandment greater than to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. And to love our neighbor as ourself. (Mark 12:30-31) Our obligation to love others is made practical in small communities.
Essential Characteristics of The Church
We intentionally seek to be like Christ when we worship God by hearing His Word to understand and apply in our lives. (Ephesians 4:13) The church must therefore be faithful in its call to make disciples. The early believers of Acts 2 demonstrated this well.
- They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, to prayer (v42) – revealing their intentional hunger to grow as Christ-followers.
- They marvelled at the wonders and signs present (v43) – showing that the Holy Spirit was actively working among them.
- They shared everything in common (v44) – showing deep authentic care for one another.
- They sold what they owned to give to the needy among them (v45) – showing they valued one another more than their possessions.
- Eating together and praising God with glad and sincere hearts, they practiced hospitality and interdependency (v46) – showing their intention to grow together as Christ-disciples.
The Lord blessed them by “adding to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47), and they began to “enjoy the favour of all the people” around them. (v47)
Elements of a Small Group Community
Likewise, Christians today need to be cared for authentically, and instructed in God’s way – to enjoy deepening fellowship, and to hold one another accountable. The church fulfils God’s purpose to make disciples of all nations, through small groups that have these characteristics:
- Meet For Spiritual Fellowship – to share sincerely with love and acceptance, hold one another responsible to obey the LORD; where the gospel impacts all relationships in a diversified yet united community
- Grow In Christ-likeness – where there is spiritual nurturing through Bible study, prayer, personal sharing borne out of mutual trust, care and support, evangelistic outreach, involvement of new members, and accountable discipleship in the community
- Multiply – where growth occurs naturally because new seekers are integrated, new leaders are developed, members share the gospel with others, do short term missions even
How Is Intentional Discipleship Expressed in Small Accountability Groups?
- By Dealing with Serious Moral Lapses – not despising, gossiping, or remaining detached, but gently and humbly yet firmly with a stern rebuke “restoring each other from sin” (Galatians 6:1) to “good, godly running condition” (John Piper)
- By Carrying Each Other’s Burdens – Loving each other as Jesus has loved us (John 15:12) by supporting financial, emotional, physical or spiritual needs in practical ways, e.g., baby sit for a tired couple, or pray and invite someone spiritually low to hear a helpful talk in church.
Relating in Small Groups is KEY to disciple making when we remember that Jesus our peace has made us one in the same household.
(Sermon notes by Marjorie Tan)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
1. How would you describe your small group experience? How can you intentionally strengthen the community aspect of small group life?
2. Why and how is the small group key to disciple-making?
3. How is your small group doing in these three elements for discipleship in the community:
- S – Spiritual Fellowship
- G – Growth In Christ-likeness
- M – Multiplication
4. What expressions of community are evident in your small group? Share a recent incident of someone carrying your burdens. Share how you can intentionally carry the burdens of someone else.
5. Discipleship is made in community. Share how you and your small group are doing in authenticity and accountability. Share how you can intentionally grow in these two areas.