Title: Sharing the Christian Life
Focus: Meeting the need of community in the church is harder than ever due to factors such as mobility and fast faced change. As a result, many in the church can feel unconnected to the body, especially if they di not grow up in that church. The model the early church gives us to overcome this difficulty is the church made up of neighborhood cell groups.
Function: To introduce the life group concept and help people get excited about it
Text: Acts 2:37-41
Title: Sharing the Christian Life
Something reminded me of our modern mobility
1. Been unpacking long forgotten boxes.
a. Not everything worth keeping
b. Have stuff from several states
c. Reminded me we lived in six states in 12 years. You relate to that?
2. MOve around a lot growing up
a. Made it a challenge to make freinds and fit in
b. This is no longer the exception
c. Statistics - 40 - 60% of a town moves in a year
d. Many have three or more jobs over a life time
3. Used to be you stayed same place all your life
a. Now life is so fast paced, never stay put long
b. Two income families
c. Leads to isolation
d. WE used to live in apartment, knew no neighors and only feet away
- You’ve heard stories about those who died at home no one knew
- That used to be the exception, now hear it regularly
4. Americans are the lonliest people in the word - Gallop
- This is tragic, because belonging and community are great needs
Why bring all this up?
1. Isolation affects the church
2. With mobile society, not as easy to become aquainted in church
a. Used to be church members knew eachother most of their lives
b. Now days, church membership is in state of constant flux
-How many grew up in Leavenworth?
-How many grew up in this church?
-How many have been here less than 10 years, more than?
c. Can have same feeling of isolation at church
d. Person can die spiritually, and know on know about it for months
3. James Hinkle, professor at York co-authored “Among freinds”
a. Almost prophetically wrote -
b. The greatest threat to the church is neither doctrinal nor moral
it is relational
c. How many fallen away you know that had no significant relationships?
Meaningful Relationships in the church Are Needed
1. Flavil Yeakley published “Why Churches Grow”
a. Did a statistical analysis of Church of Christ
b. Found that those who made more than 6 relationships not drop out
c. 6 or less, began to see drop outs, and they increase and number of
d. Add that fact to the increased difficulty in having relationships. Do you
see a problem?
2. George Barna wrote “Attendance Isn’t Belonging” How true
a. Few months ago, family watching TV in basement, lights went out
b. Silence, “no one move” William huddle closer to me. Scary
c. Feel isolated even though people only a few feet away
3. 1 John 2:10 - The one who loves his brother abides in the light
a. Without love, church can be dark place
b. Can sit in auditorium full of people and feel isolated
c. What it mean to love? More than greeting in foyer
d. Love in deed and truth. Yet foyer love is the extent of it for many of us
4. I can relate to this when in Biloxi
a. Attended the Rodenburg congregation as young single Airman
b. For over three months, no connection. I stopped
c. That was a lonely time for me
d. Eventually connected at Ocean Springs. Had a singles “group”
5. Is it any wonder that some dissapear?
a. Something wrong when few feet of each other and feel isolated
b. Something wrong with a body that is a loose affilication rather than
a tight knit organism
What is the solution? Text: Acts 2:37-41
1. Have you ever been to a really large church. Did you get lost?
2. How do you keep from getting lost in 3,000 member church?
3. Put it this way, how do you care for 3,000 infants on your doorstep?
4. How were these new members cared for?
I. (Acts 2:43-47) How to care for each other
A. All those who believed were 1. together
They met 2. house to house
1. They were together in homes
2. This seemed to be the norm
3. Many passing references to meetings in homes
(Rom 16:5; 1 Cor 16:19; Col 4:15; Philem 1:2)
4. Had no building, so met regularly in homes
B. It suggested the Church Buildings caused significant loss of intimacy
1. Church became less an organism and more an organization
2. The warm home atmosphere replaced by cathedral
C. Don’t get me wrong, I not against large meetings
1. Some have written to get rid of buildings and large churches
2. Notice - They continued in the 3. temple
D. Even the early church was not without large assemblies
1. They met where it was convenient - In many cases - a home
3. Small groups are Biblical, but so are Large Groups
II. So which is better? Small house church, or large church?
A. It depends on what you are talking about
B. Let’s face it, each has its strengths.
1. There are some things you can do better in large group
2. Some things do better in a small group
a. Colossians 3:16 - singing - Large group is better
- At Harding. 3,000 voices in chapel
- Tulsa - 10,000 voices in the Arena
- Rev 5:11, 14 - Countless voices in Heaven
b. Hebrews 10:24-25 - Assemble to...
- Stimulate one another to love and good deeds
- Encouraging one another
- Small groups work better for this
c. 1 Peter 4:8-11 - Small or large group
- Fervent love -
- Hospitality -
- Serve one another - Large church more gifts,
- but small enables more intimacy
- Speaking - Large church have more varied talents
4. Many other examples, but I think you get the picture
C. It is not an either or question. We need both small and large
D. This is the model we see in the Jerusalem church
1. There was a large meeting in the temple courts
2. But the church was made up of “cell groups” througout the city
3. We a “restoration” church, let’s restore what was so effective
III. Elders decided to implement “Life Groups”
A. Will be a place to share life
1. Pulpit based groups
2. Meet to discuss personal application of Sunday sermon
3. Sunday evenings
B. A place to “Share” life
1. Service - Intimately aquainted with needs
a. Be more aware of ministry needs
b. Seems to happen naturally in small close knit group
2. Heal - More in tuned to emotional and spiritual needs
a. Can spend time praying
b. More effective at bearing one another’s burdens
3. Apply - Personally apply God’s word
a. We have information overload (four separate topics)
b. Most forget the sermon within a week, or a day
c. This combines Sunday morning and evening
4. Relationships - Build intimate relationships
a. Can sit in a pew and be lonely
b. Hard to be lonely in a small group
5. Evangelism - (John 13:34-35)
a. People know we are disciples by “love” for one another
b. Visitors can see Christianity in action
c. Groups are not closed, they will multiply as they grow
1. Have heard powerful stories about lives changes through Life Groups
a. Some were pall bearers and funerals, some in wedding party
b. Some have pitched in to either fix or buy car for person in group
c. Some helped to restore marriage
2. I want stories like that to be our stories
3. Through LIfe Groups, I think we can better live up to the Biblical
description of the church as a body, or family of God
4. Will have sign up lists posted in the near future for small groups.
1. Christianity about relationship
2. Severed relationship with God
3. Jesus came to restore it through his death and resurrection
4. Please respond