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.
In preparation for a sermon I am preaching on Father’s Day, here is a blog post I will reference in the message. If you read it before Sunday, you will be ahead of the game for this week’s message.
As Dads, we are called to be the spiritual leaders of our families. Both our physical families and our church family. We do lead by example, the question is will we lead by a positive example or a negative one? I am preaching on Father’s Day in a couple of weeks, and as I am preparing the message, I started thinking about practical application tips for my message. Out of that process has come the following thoughts.
Five simple practices through which Dads can purposefully disciple their children:
1. Teach about Christ using day-to-day teachable moments (Deut. 6:4-10) 4 “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Listen, O Dads, we have surrendered many opportunities for daily teachable moments by not being present. Unplug from your phones and tablets, and have your kids do the same. Talk about the wonder and beauty of God’s creation. Discuss the ups and downs of your kids’ day. Discuss opportunities to let the light of Jesus shine in your life in the midst of those ups and downs. Praise God for His blessings, and ask God for His guidance daily.
2. Play and pray with your kids, they need your presence and the Presence of God in their lives. Remember what Jesus said in Luke 18:15-17?
15[ Jesus Blesses the Children ] One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering him. Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”
Jesus made it clear that He was not too busy to spend time with children. Dads, you cannot be too busy for that, either. If you are, then repent, and be present in your kids’ lives!
3. Bring your kids to church with you. (He. 10:23-25)
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.
Men, as the spiritual leader of your household, YOU set the standard for being in church. YOU are the one to make sure your kids are in church. YOU are responsible for modeling Christian behavior, YOU will answer to God in this regard.
4. Model serving others for your kids. (Mt. 20:28)
28 “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
A. Cleveland Moxe wrote: “Real worship is not something that is transacted in a church; real worship is something which sees the world as the temple of the living God and every common deed an act of worship.”*
Men, are you modeling this type of worship? Men, are you serving your family? Are you serving in the church? Are you serving others in your community? Do your kids see you serving? YOU are the model for your kids.
5. Purposefully serve others with your kids. (Phil 2:3-4)
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
Do you have your kids serving in age-appropriate ways with you? Do they help you unload the dishwasher? Have they collected food and clothing with you for the local homeless shelter? Have they helped on a Habitat for Humanity worksite with you?
Yes. these are five fairly broad practices through which fathers can disciple their kids. Yes, all of these practicesare applicable to our physical families as well as our church family. They are practices the church badly needs bold men of Christ to exhibit on a daily basis.
*A Cleveland Moxe, The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, “Weekly Worship of the Christians,” Chapter LXII, pp 185-186