Why You Need to Attend Small Groups

For every Christian, hearing the Word of God read and proclaimed to their hearts each week in worship with the church is absolutely essential. The Bible warns every believer to not neglect meeting together every week, “as is the habit of some” (Hebrews 10:25). But “going to church” is not enough for the Christian. In order to grow and continue in the faith absolutely depends on regular face-to-face meeting with other Christians where we are personally involved in each others lives (1 Peter 4:10). There are things God will only do in a Christian’s life when they are in a small group setting, such as is happening in our Life Groups at Providence Church. The following is an excerpt from a sermon from John Piper that is helpful in explaining some reasons we need small group community in the church:

7 Reasons We Need Small Groups

God has given pastors to the church “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11–12). I believe in what I do. And I believe that it is not enough. Here are the seven reasons I gave the small group leaders.

  1. The impulse to avoid painful growth by disappearing safely into the crowd in corporate worship is very strong.
  2. The tendency toward passivity in listening to a sermon is part of our human weakness.
  3. Listeners in a big group can more easily evade redemptive crises. If tears well up in your eyes in a small group, wise friends will gently find out why. But in a large gathering, you can just walk away from it.
  4. Listeners in a large group tend to neglect efforts of personal application. The sermon may touch a nerve of conviction, but without someone to press in, it can easily be avoided.
  5. Opportunity for questions leading to growth is missing. Sermons are not dialogue. Nor should they be. But asking questions is a key to understanding and growth. Small groups are great occasions for this.
  6. Accountability for follow-through on good resolves is missing. But if someone knows what you intended to do, the resolve is stronger.
  7. Prayer support for a specific need or conviction or resolve goes wanting. O how many blessings we do not have because we are not surrounded by a band of friends who pray for us.

So please know that when this small-group ministry of our church is lifted up, I don’t think it’s an optional add-on to basic Christian living. I think it is normal, healthy, needed, New Testament Christianity. I pray that you will be part of one of these small groups or that you will get the training and start one. This is the main strategy through which our pastors and elders shepherd the flock at Bethlehem: Elders > small group leaders > members to one another.

Why Read the Bible Daily?

Believe it or not, everyone (even the most admirable Christians and Bible teachers) struggle to read the Bible daily. Desiring to read God’s Word does not come natural to anyone because desiring God is not in our nature. It is a desire we all have to battle daily to do. Reminding yourself why reading the Bible regularly is important is part of that battle. That’s why I found this article encouraging.

Five Promises for Your Bible Reading and Prayer

By Steve Fuller | Jan 14, 2013

Bible

Do you consistently seek God in the word and prayer? Or have you tried again and again, become discouraged, and given up? We are deep enough into January that this is the story for many us. Resolutions have began to stall. And even if you do get time with God, is it life-giving? Or is it just going through the motions, reading an assigned passage, praying through your list, and being relieved when it’s over?

It’s not too late to make some good changes. So if you are struggling to spend time with God, here are five promises that can help:

1. God Is My Exceeding Joy

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me … Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy. (Psalm 43:3–4)

God promises to be your exceeding joy, not because of what he gives, but because of who he is. When we behold and worship him we have infinitely more joy than we have in anything else.

So why would we rather sleep in than seek God? It’s because we’re not trusting that God is our exceeding joy. So what can we do?

Don’t just grit your teeth and try harder. Do what the psalmist says — ask God to send you his light (the heart-enlightening work of the Spirit) and his truth (the Word of God). Then pray over promises describing God as your joy, like Psalm 43:3–4; Psalm 16:11; Matthew 13:44; and 1 Peter 1:8.

As you do, God will send his light and truth so you see and feel that he really is your exceeding joy. Then, when you see that infinite joy is found in him, you’ll want to spend time with him.

2. Hearing God’s Word Will Increase My Faith

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

Many mornings I’m tempted not to seek God because my faith feels weak. But that’s like not going to the doctor because my body feels sick. Just like doctors heal sick bodies, so God strengthens weak faith, as we hear his word.

Weak faith is like a weak battery. But God’s word is a battery charger. So when your faith is weak, open his word, and plug in your weak faith. God promises that as you do that, he will recharge you.

3. God’s Word Is the Only Perfect Source of Guidance

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

The world is like a pitch-black cave in which we can’t see anything. But God has given us the high-powered flashlight of his word.

So if we head into our day without pondering God’s word, it’s like stumbling through a cave without turning on the flashlight.

But starting the day in God’s Word is like turning on the flashlight, so we can see the crevice to avoid, the rock to duck under, the turn we want to take. Don’t head into your day without turning on the flashlight.

4. When You Pray, God Will Answer

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

One reason we don’t pray is because we believe Satan’s lie that prayer does nothing. But that’s not what Jesus taught (Matthew 7:7).

Jesus promises that every time we pray, God will answer. He will either do exactly what we ask, or something even better, which he would not have done had we not prayed.

So if I start the day praying about my heart, marriage, children, work, and ministry, then God will do things in my heart, marriage, children, work, and ministry that he would not have done had I not prayed. Trust Jesus’ promise about prayer — and pray.

5. This Is the One Thing Which Will Not Be Taken Away

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41–42)

Martha had busied herself in the kitchen, while Mary sat at Jesus’s feet, listening to his word. And Jesus said Mary had made the right choice, because she had chosen the one thing which could not be taken from her.

Everything else can be taken from you. But time with Jesus will never be taken from you, because the heart you nurture for Jesus now will bring you increased joy in him forever. And ever. And ever.

So if you haven’t spent time with God, and you are tempted with the newspaper, Facebook, or a phone call, stop. Ask yourself: what will bring me joy that will never be taken away?

Then set everything else aside to join Mary at Jesus’s feet, listening to his word.

Tomorrow Morning

The alarm goes off.

I’m tired. Maybe just a little more sleep. But wait. . .

God is inviting me to exceeding joy.
His word will strengthen my weak faith.
His word will shine light on the darkness around me.
When I pray, God will work.
This is the one thing that can’t be taken from me.
I think I’ll get up.