If you were to come to my house on a Thursday evening, here is what you would see:
You, along with 10-15 others, would arrive around the same time and walk right through the front door – no need to ring the doorbell because you know you are welcome. As you come into the living room, you will be greeted and will begin catching up on your week with those who are there. Soon after, you will make your way into the kitchen to make a plate and get a drink. No need to ask to get into the refrigeration – you have refrigerator rights. After you’ve made a plate, you will head back into the living room where everyone has gathered to eat together. There is a lot of laughter as stories are shared about what has been going on in everyone’s lives.
As you finish eating, the group discussion will shift to what we learned last weekend during the weekend sermon. You open your Bible as the group dives deeper into the truths that were learned and discuss how these truths apply to our lives and how we can live them out. Many, maybe even you, share the challenges that you have faced living out what we’ve learned and others offer encouragement in how they have been more successful. After a time of discussion, the floor is opened up for you to share areas in your life that need prayer and even areas in which the group can praise God together. We close out the night by praying for each other’s specific needs. Even after prayer time, you may stick around for a few extra minutes because the fellowship has been so wonderful. As you leave, you walk back out to your car encouraged and ready to face the rest of the week. This has been YOUR Life Group.
In the book of Acts, Luke describes the early church in this way:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
When Luke says, “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of the people,” does this not sound like what occurs in my home on Thursday nights? In fact, this is what occurs in a dozen or so Life Groups that meet monthly and throughout the week, not including the Student Life Groups that meet during Collide on Saturday nights.
As we continue in our MyMCC series this week, we are going to continue looking at the early church as described in Acts while we discover why MCC has Life Groups, why they are designed the way they are, and how these groups fulfill our four-part mission to Discover, Connect, Grow, and Love. The first truth that we are going to learn is that through Life Groups, we discover the importance of community. Hebrews 10:25 exhorts us, “Do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” This verse was written to a church that was in the midst of severe persecution. And yet, the emphasis is on continuing to be together for mutual encouragement so that Christ-followers can be built up for the work that was ahead of them. God didn’t design us to face life alone – He gave us community with other believers in order that we might share one another’s burdens.
Secondly, Life Groups connect me with others who understand what I’m going through. We do not develop these groups at random. They are not formed alphabetically or even simply by geographic locations as some of the group names might suggest. Rather, they are comprised of people who are often in similar seasons of life and can relate to the struggles and challenges one another are facing. I love seeing people come to the realization that they are not the only ones who face what they are facing, that others have been there, and have come through stronger on the other end. It brings life to the reality that God allows us to comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received.
Third, we grow much deeper roots through community with other believers. When I developed our current shepherding system, my goal was for Life Group leaders to reach out to people in their life groups who weren’t at weekend worship service. Then I realized something amazing – the people who are actively involved in Life Groups don’t miss weekend worship services and are often those who are most committed in serving in one or more areas. This is not a coincidence. Through small groups, we are more encouraged and built up for the work that God has given us and we know that we are missed when we aren’t at weekend gatherings or MDWK.
Fourth and finally, I learn to love and serve others as a member of a Life Group. In just a little more than a month or so, service project season will be upon us in full stride. Committing to serve in a project can be a scary thing when you are doing it on your own. But each year, our Life Groups take ownership of these projects and serve as a united front in order to show the love of Jesus to our community. There is something special about serving together with a common goal of seeing the Gospel spread and lives changed. This is a lot less scary when you are serving alongside those whom you have developed a deep relationship.
I love our Life Groups and have a strong desire to see everyone connect and grow deeper through them. I hope that you will come out this weekend as we learn more together and, if you aren’t already, consider being a part of a Life Group yourself. Join us at 5:30 PM on Saturday evening or 10:30 AM on Sunday morning.