“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”—John 13:35
We are called to gather in worship and live in authentic relationships with one another, to live out the 59 “one anothers” in the New Testament. Pastor McCay Caston encourages us about the importance of coming together in worship: "After all, worship is unto God, but it actually is for us. God doesn’t need our worship. But we need to worship God because it centers us, helping to keep us from worshipping other, lesser gods that deceive and destroy rather than save and bless" (mccaycaston.com, December 13, 2017). Beyond worship, it's important to connect in smaller communities where we can be intentional in growing in relationship with Jesus and others. Some examples at CPC are small groups, Circles, classes and Sunday Communities.
The Gospel-Centered Community Bible study sheds some light on how God uses community to transform us: “Did you ever notice how patient you are – as long as no one is getting on your nerves? Or how loving you are – as long as you’re surrounded by people who are easy to love? Or how humble you are – as long as you’re respected and admired by others? Every one of us is a saint in isolation! It’s in community that our real weaknesses, flaws, and sins are exposed. That’s why community is essential – not optional – for transformation. We can’t become the people God wants us to become outside of community.”
Elyse Fitzpatrick also reminds us that “God has placed us in a [church] family because we don't grow very well on our own. It's still not good to be alone. We need the encouragement, correction, and loving involvement of others who are willing to risk everything for the sake of the beauty of his bride.”
This lesson, used in conjunction with the video below, is a good place to start.
Foundational verses provide the biblical basis for each character trait. Read through these verses together as a group when you first begin exploring this trait. You might also consider memorizing one of the verses together.
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”—Colossians 3:16
“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.”—Acts 2:42-47
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”—Ephesians 4:11-12
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving 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.”—Hebrews 10:24-25
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”—1 Peter 2:9
On Your Own
- Discover all the “one anothers” in the New Testament by reviewing this infographic. Look up the verses that are listed to better understand the context.
- Read this post by Scott Sauls and consider why being part of a local church is important: Church…Love It or Leave It?
- Read this post by McCay Caston and be encouraged about gathering with others in worship: 6 Reasons Why You Should Attend Gathered Worship Every Sunday
- Use the YouVersion Bible app to stay connected in a consistent way with the Bible. The app has many different reading plans and short devotionals designed to help you consistently read and engage with Scripture. We recommend this devotional which reminds us of the importance of being in community with other believers.
With Your Small Group
2. Here are several ways your group can grow deeper in relationships:
- Set Ground Rules: Your group should agree together on some ground rules and make them your own. If you already have ground rules in place, it’s a good idea to revisit them at least once a year to refocus your conversation and ways of relating to one another. If you’ve never talked about ground rules or it’s been so long you can’t quite remember what you might have agreed to, one of these examples might be a good place for you to start: Sample One • Sample Two
- Ask Accountability Questions: Go deeper into your lives by focusing your sharing time on 3-5 questions that will take you beyond the basic facts of what’s happening in your job, family, etc. Ask these questions regularly when you gather. For some ideas to get you started, see this list of small group questions that came from John Wesley over 200 years ago.
- Cultivate Friendship: Spend time outside of group together and really get to know each other. There are so many simple ways to do this! Get creative: dinner at a new restaurant, backyard barbecue in the summer, concerts, serve together when CPC hosts Families Moving Forward, walk around the lake, etc. In addition, when you gather, sprinkle in some get-to-know-you questions even if your group has been together for many years; you might be surprised what you learn. Check out this list for some ideas on deepening friendships by sharing stories.
3. Echo Prayer App: James 5:16 encourages us to “pray for one another”, and this amazing app helps a group stay connected with prayer requests and updates. Watch this short video clip to see why one group loves it.
4. Gospel-Centered Community: Consider using this nine-session Bible study that helps you learn how the Spirit shapes diverse people into a Christ-centered community reflecting Jesus to a watching world.
5. Use the YouVersion Bible app to connect as a group outside your regular meeting times. The Bible app has many different reading plans designed to take you through the Bible in a year, or a single book over the course of a few weeks, or through select Scriptures on a specific topic. Many of the reading plans also include a short devotional to unpack the Scripture a little and challenge you with questions to think about as you read. When you start a new plan, choose the option of reading it “With Friends,” and the app will walk you through inviting others to join you. Be encouraged about engaging in community by doing this devotional together.
Use these questions before, during and after working through the resources to help your group have conversations about how you’re growing together in this disciple character trait:
- How can your small group live and experience more together in a given week or month?
- Have each group member respond to this question personally: How has this small group impacted you?
- When people look at your small group, how will they know that you are Jesus’ disciples?
- How does corporate worship connect you to Jesus?