As we continue to move through our series on Big Church we have seen that the Christian Church has moved away from the original model of the first century. Remember the elements they used: devotion to the apostle’s teaching, to fellowship, to eating meals, and prayer. When these things were present they were of one mind and God used them to make more disciples daily. As we considered the need to move back and the first element of studying the Bible (the Apostle’s teaching) we have observed that laziness has kept Christians in America from being all God intends for them to be.
I have been in church services my entire life. My mother was the church pianist and I cannot think of a single Sunday where I was not standing in the pews, singing the songs, and listening to the minister. What I don’t remember very much of, is community. I don’t remember other members of the congregation coming over to our home and living the Christian life along-side of us. I don’t remember serving one another in their times of need and being a support system to get them back on their feet. It may have happened, but if I don’t remember it in my entire childhood is must not have happened very often.
This is exactly the problem we have been examining. The Church in America has become content to show up on Sunday (and maybe Wednesday night), clock in, clock out, and live the rest of the week for ourselves. We have come to believe in our hearts that if we give God a little of our time that we have a proper standing with him. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard someone speak of how they intentionally lived in sin throughout the week but because they went to church on Sunday that it was okay. This is not what Jesus or the first century Church modeled!
To drive this point home, let’s look at an example found in Scripture. Our chapter for today is Hebrews 10. Take some time to read the entire chapter for context. Among other things, we saw the importance of following God in our lives as well as in our hearts and not to sin just to give God an opportunity to show mercy. This turning away from the truth of the Gospel is what many believers were struggling with. They wanted to live like their culture but still be right with God.
One of the reasons this was happening is because some of the believers were no longer meeting regularly. They had quit meeting together and living life together. As a result, they were being led astray by false doctrine and worldliness. Let’s examine a few verses to see what the writer of Hebrews gave as a solution:
Hebrews 10 (NLT):
23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Here the writer was encouraging the Church to continue meeting together so they could serve one another. This community was evident all throughout the book of Acts as well as the letters the Apostles wrote. Church was not a building, because they did not have specific buildings. Sure, they met in the Synagogues but those were buildings the Jews used, it was not a standard meeting place for Christianity. The normal place of meeting was a home. And most local Church bodies met in small groups. They would gather together as a large group once or twice a week, but the main ministry was done regularly in home groups.
How does this compare to the Church body you serve in? Have you been conditioned to contently meet once or twice a week in a big building, do a service, pray, and go home? Or are you so wrapped up in community that you don’t know where Church really is? Do you regularly meet in one another’s homes and live life together? Or do you only see your Church family on Wednesdays and Sundays?
I’m not sure where this strikes you or what you feel in your heart you need to do about it. But I pray that you would consider either joining an existing small group or starting one of your own. Open your own home to others and build relationships that exist outside of the church building. And as we see in the example of the first century church, do this regularly. It does not have to be just for Bible study; it can be to watch a movie, or play games, or do a ministry project, share a meal, go hunting, etc. Live life together!
What are the results of having a regular small group that serves each other in Christian love? Christian community is the greatest result. Having others that can share your burden, help carry you through tough times and rejoice with you in good ones. In our home group we have walked with each other through sickness, death, the births of children, the struggle to pay bills, finding jobs, serving our community, and on and on the list could go. We simply live life together.
I pray that today you would begin to think about a group of people in your age range and life situation that you would be willing to draw together to begin a small group within your church. The point is not to break off from your church family but to create a Christian lifestyle that does more than meet twice a week to sing some songs, hear a preacher, and go home. Instead, we want to do real ministry in the lives of fellow Christians and our lost community. Don’t wait, start working on it today.