Monthly Archives: May 2017
Several years ago, the Christ in Youth Summer Conference (now known as MOVE) had a theme called ONES. The bottom line for the teaching that week is that we were never meant to be alone. I pray daily that those who attended the conference that summer will NEVER forget that bottom line, and I have incorporated that message into the “Love People” part of our vision statement at VCC. Life truly is better when we do it together. At VCC, Life Groups are the vehicle we steer folks towards so they can become more involved, and better known among the family of believers.
Among the purposes of our Life Groups:
Deeper study and application of God’s Word in a more intimate setting. Pouring over a passage of Scripture with 10 or 12 other people makes for a deeper time of study and reflection, a chance for give-and-take in discussion, and a bonding that simply is not possible in the Big Group time on Sunday mornings.
A chance to get to know some others on a deeper level. Our discussion are more than academic in nature, and because of that, we get to know the others in our Life Group on a deeper level. We learn their personalities, their quirks, maybe even their fears, and their faith issues (positive and negative), and can band together in love, prayer, and support for one another.
Doing Life Together. That means more than “just” a Bible study. While studying God’s Word is of primary importance, it is not the ONLY thing we do in Life Groups. We do social outings together (dinners, affinity activities, game nights, just to name a few).
There’s a Shepherding component that is HUGE here. When members of your Life Group are sick, in the hospital, having major life change issues, or whatever, members of the Life Group are the first responders. We fix meals, we check on folks who missed even one Life Group or Sunday morning gathering. We are there to help in whatever way necessary. We are family.
Challenging each other to move to that “next step” in our faith journey, ultimately getting to “Serve Others.” Whether it is serving inside the church structure on a ministry team, or serving outside the church structure in our community (and preferably both), we challenge each other to be the “hands and feet of Jesus.” It is so much easier and frankly more fun to serve others when you do it with a group of like-minded believers!
So often, the church loses as many people out the “back door” as come in through the “front door.” It is because we are not doing a great job in helping new believers connect with the body of Christ known as the local church. At VCC, our goal is to get everyone “plugged in” through a Life Group. We are far from achieving our goal, but we are making strides in that direction. Helping others see the benefits of being in a Life Group WILL make a difference in this matter.
So, what other benefits have you seen from being part of a Life Group? I would LOVE to hear from you on this matter.
The vision statement for Vero Christian Church reads: Love God, Love People, Serve Others. This statement was crafted after much study, prayer, and discussion. While it adopts a Simple Church phraseology, it is deep. Simple does not equate easy or shallow. Complex does not equate deep or thoughtful.
If we are to properly do life together (as I wrote about in this previous post), then we must start with a solid foundation. That foundation is our relationship with God. All other relationships will rise or fall based on this fundamental relationship.
As we Love God, we desire to spend time with Him. In prayer. In Bible study. in personal, private worship. In corporate worship. Yes, all of the above are necessary for a deepening relationship with God. Doing life together means just that: together. Not solo. There are NO Lone Ranger Christians. Christ is coming back to redeem and collect His Bride, the Church. Not a bunch of individuals. As I mentioned in my previous post, we are all living stones in and for the Temple of God.
Notice I used the word “desire” in the paragraph above. We must DESIRE to spend this time with God and His people. It is not a “have to” attitude God is seeking. It is a “get to” or a “want to” desire. I LOVE my time in God’s Word each day. But, I LOVE the time Peggy and I spend in God’s Word together each day even more. I LOVE the time I get to spend with brothers and sisters in Christ on the Lord’s Day each week. When we gather, we publicly proclaim our love for God. We sing His praises, we pray for one another and for others outside our fellowship. We gather around the Lord’s Table, eating bread and drinking juice to proclaim the death, burial, resurrection, and coming again soon of our Lord Jesus. We hear God’s Word proclaimed, and are challenged to apply that Word to our daily lives. We are encouraged by one another, and we feel the love of God working through our Christian brothers and sisters.
That gathering with my fellow living stones of God’s Temple is the highlight of my week. It is a time of Celebration and joy. It is a time to express our love for God as a family. It crushes my heart that so many who claim to follow Christ do not see the importance of weekly gathering with the body of Christ. I guess this is not a new problem because the writer of the book of Hebrews (I believe it is Paul who wrote this book, but that is a subject for another day) says:
23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 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.
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Yeah, apparently the teaching in the early church was that God thinks it is important to be in the weekly assembly. I believe it is critical for us to obey God’s Word. I also know that I could not survive this thing called life without that regular, weekly gathering with my brothers and sisters in Christ to express our collective Love for God.
How about you?
Peggy and I are immersing ourselves in 1 Peter this year in our couple’s devotion time. We go through one chapter each day (Monday-Friday, since there are five chapters in this book), allowing the Scriptures to wash over us. We discuss a verse that stands out to us each day. Today, I am simply blown away by the thought that we individual Christians are stones being built into God’s Temple. See, there is a thought out there in supposedly “Christian circles” that I can love God but not be part of the church.
One stone does not much of a Temple make.
Wrong. Period. The church is the Bride of Christ. apart from the church, you will have no eternal fellowship with God. While each individual one of us is a Temple for the Holy Spirit indwelling us, TOGETHER we are the stones making up the Temple of God. One stone does not much of a Temple make. Life is better together, because God designed us that way.
We are living stones that God is building into His Temple. That means He is not through with us. There is more work to be done. In community. Together. There is no such thing as a “Lone Ranger Christian,” nor does the Bible recognize anyone as Christian who is not part of a community of believers. So, can we who claim to follow Christ please stop trying to say that we don’t need or want to be part of His Church? We are being completely disingenuous, and are making fools of ourselves.
One stone does not a temple make. One Christian does not a church make. A Christian apart from the body of Christ is dying whether they recognize that fact or not. Spiritually, they are decaying, and will soon enough be so numb to this reality they will not even recognize it.
To this end, I would like to devote the next few posts to the three components of Vero Christian Church’s Vision Statement: Love God, Love People, Serve Others. I pray you will join me as I explore the meaning behind each section of that vision, and how it relates to the fact that life is better together!