So, what is the benefit of being a part of a Life Group at South Fellowship? That’s a good question. Because our society is so disjointed and spread out, it is not easy to live as God wants us as his people. He tells us that people who truly follow Jesus by faith are connected by God’s Spirit. We are, as he says, God’s temple and Christ’s body. We are called upon to live out that spiritual reality.
What’s more, we are called to fulfill all those precious “one another” commands, such as to love one another, serve one another, and exhort, teach, encourage, counsel, edify, pray for one another and then some. The best way many churches have found to do this is through Life Groups (also called by other names).
If you have not yet found a reason or have not yet connected with a Life Group, then I urge you to make a commitment to at least consider how a Life Group can enrich your life while blessing others.
A Life Group is a place to:
Love and be loved
A major reason to unite with a Life Group (LG) is so that you may expand your love to others and be loved by others (1 Peter 4:8). As so many have already experienced, Life Groups are small communities of grace, appreciation, comfort, refuge, healing and unity; in other words, a place for caring relationships.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
Nutritional support: John 13:35; 15:9-12; Romans 12:10ff; 1 Corinthians 1:9-10; 12:26; 13; 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13; 4:9; 2 Cor. 1:2-7; 13:11-14; Ephesians 3:14-21; 1 Peter 4:7-11
Integrate into a Jesus-community
We live in a day in which people are more connected with others than ever before, but perhaps just as many are not living in healthy, social communities or developing good relationships. God made us for relationships and has designed us to be intertwined with other followers of Jesus. For many reasons he wants us to be living cells in the one body of Christ.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12)
Nutritional support: Matthew 12:50; Romans 12:3-5; 1 Corinthians 12:1-27; Ephesians 2:19; 4:13; Titus 1:4
Foster fellowship and friendships
LGs are arenas for you to know and be known, to value and be valued. Believers in Jesus Christ learn how to turn strangers and even enemies into friends. After all, Jesus loved his enemies and made them his friends! Friends know how to have fellowship and fun. Friends practice authenticity, acceptance, kindness, patience, and sacrifice. Good friends support and enrich each other.
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15)
Nutritional support: 1 Samuel 20:17; Proverbs 27:6, 17; Matthew 5:43-48; 11:19; 22:37-39; John 15:13-15; Romans 13:8-10
Encourage and be encouraged*
It is not hard to find yourself and others in places of distress or discouragement. That’s because of the nature of life this side of heaven. What’s even more challenging is living out the healthy Christian life in the ways God has designed for you, for us. He has made you to come alongside of others and made others to come alongside of you in order to build you up, grow you out, and enrich you well. LGs are wonderful places to do just that.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Nutritional support: Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-25; 1 Thess. 4:18; 5:11-14; 1 Cor. 13:6; Eph. 4:13; Phil. 3:15-16; Col. 2:19
*Note: In the New Testament, exhorting and encouraging one another means to urge and bolster others in their Christian walk by giving aid and comfort; by strengthening; by counseling; by being a true friend in doing whatever is necessary to promote the welfare of the ones you love.
Give and be given
God created us as relational creatures who are designed to give and to receive. This is how God is: he gives and we receive. God made us like him in this way. While sin has corrupted this original design Jesus came as the God-Man to give to us new life and to restore in us that original purpose. As believers in Jesus Christ we not only have natural talents but are also given spiritual gifts to benefit others.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace… (1 Peter 4:10)
Nutritional support: Matthew 10:43-44; Romans 12; 1 Cor. 12; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:7-16
Raise up new leaders
LGs are fantastic laboratories for finding and developing future leaders in Christ’s church. There is a principle in the Bible that says if God is calling a particular person to serve as a leader that one will be growing in Christ-like character, exercising spiritual gifts necessary for the work, and exhibiting essential leadership qualities. These things will become apparent to both the leadership in the local church, but also to many within the congregation. God’s people will recognize this person’s call as a qualified and legitimate, and this happens within contexts such as Life Groups.
And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:2-4)
Nutritional support: Exodus 18:13-27; Matthew 28:28; Heb. 5:4; 1 Tim. 3; 4:14-15; 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:1-2; 3:16f
Observe God’s Word
Jesus’ departing command to his followers was that as they go out into the world they would make disciples by teaching them to observe his commandments (Matthew 28:28). To observe means to know, understand, obey, and practice (Luke 11:28). LGs are more than classrooms to gain Bible information. They are classrooms to garner spiritual formation (Rom. 12:1-2). LGs are a means to be involved in promoting the spiritual growth of others in Christ-likeness. They are living contexts to observe God’s Word. How? One way is by teaching one another (Colossians 3:16).
Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it! (Luke 11:28)
Nutritional support: Acts 20:32; Rom. 14:19; 15:2,14; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Ephesians 4:11-13; Colossians 1:28; 3:16; Hebrews 5:11-14; 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Uphold others who are suffering.
God wants us to care for the needs of others, especially those who are fellow believers in Jesus Christ. It’s a strange thing that suffering flows through God’s grace (Romans 8:28-29). All suffering for the believer is ultimately designed for blessing (1 Peter 1:9-11; 4:14). What’s more, God made it so that fellow Christians come alongside to aid one another in life’s pain and suffering (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)
Nutritional support: Isaiah 35:3; 40:1; 1 Corinthians 14:31;2 Corinthians 1:5-7; Ephesians 4:32; 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14; James 1:27
Praise and pray together
1 Peter 2:5 tells us that as God’s people we are the new temple of God as well as priests who offer spiritual sacrifices to God. The early church, along with the Jewish people of the time, understood that true worship and sacrifice was mostly about praying to God and praising God. LGs give us wonderful occasions to be God’s priests by praying for one another, and then worshipfully praising God together for who God is and what he does.
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. (James 5:13)
Nutritional support: 1 Chronicles 16:11; Matthew 7:7; Luke 18:1; Ephesians 6:18-19; Philippians 4:6; Colossians 4:2; James 5:13-18; Revelation 1:6
The last, but certainly not the least characteristic of LGs is that we find ways to serve and be served in tangible and personal ways. As a congregation we can certainly serve, but the closeness of LGs opens up for us real opportunities to minister. The Bible tells us we do this:
1. By serving God (Exodus 7:16, John 4:21-23; Acts 20:19)
2. By serving one another, which is the highest position we hold in Christ’s Kingdom (Mark 9:34ff; Luke 22:24ff)
3. By serving others in tangible acts of kindness, mercy, and hope (Luke 10; Acts 6)
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)
Nutritional support: Mark 10:43-44; John 13:14; 1 Corinthians 9:19; 2 Corinthians 4:5; Galatians 5:13; Philippians 2:3-8
These are some of the main reasons for getting connected with a Life Group. Here is what I encourage you to do:
1. If you are already involved in a Life Group, then tell others about it.
2. If you are not united with a Life Group yet, then please take ten to twenty minutes to think and pray about doing so. Mark it down in your calendar to do this, and then agree to commit to seriously weighing how your involvement in a Life Group can and will impact your life positively (let alone how it will bless others).
3. If you are already convinced you want to join with a Life Group, then go on South’s website to find out more or check out the various tables that will be set up at South Fellowship on Sundays September 21st, and Sunday September 28th.
Here’s to Life!