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What We Do is Not Good

Dee Casper
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There is a huge, Biblical, and attractive evangelistic asset that is largely unused in the church today. It’s called Small Group Evangelism. In this message we walk through the Biblical validation of this method, and the practical ways you can implement it in your local church. 

Presenter

Dee Casper

Evangelism Director for UnScene Media Group

Sponsor

Recorded

  • February 25, 2017
    7:00 PM
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God in heaven I want to think you that the Scriptures give us clear counsel on how we can grow a local church how we can make our churches healthier closer and more effective in evangelism and I just pray that as we cover this topic this afternoon that you would bless us with your peace with your presence and with wisdom and manna from heaven this is my plea and I ask this in Jesus' name. In. So the first thing I'd like to do is kind of start with a lesson by contrast if you will. A lesson by contrast. So the typical evangelist it serious scenario that you will see in a local church setting in most cases looks like this we hire a guy to preach right or the pastor plans to preach so typically we're going to hire somebody to preach or the pastor is going to plan to preach from there we mail out flyers hoping that people will show up a one percent return on your investment is acceptable and is actually pretty good a one percent of the flyers that you send out so members invite friends and some other form of advertisement takes place radio ads banners posters around town all of the attendees and members predominantly watch one man do a majority of the work the pastor comes he does his thing that's kind of what we look for and there's little participation from the members apart from maybe somebody responding to an appeal or bridge of INS if a church does them bridge of insomnia like cooking classes or you know family Symon ours or financial scimitars as ways to kind of invite people before the series are happening during the series the series happens in a smaller number than a ride gets bad guys and we praise God for that people are being baptized that would have been baptized Otherwise I'm not downplaying that but then from there if your church is fortunate enough to have conference funds or if they can afford to pay for it themselves a Bible worker furthers the contacts along outside of the meeting. Yes right before during and after generally. We now hold to the church will nurture them and that they're able to make friends as new members of the church that they're actually going to integrate right not to show up for the meetings and then disappear we hope that that will happen. We also hope that somehow they're going to want to reach out to their friends and community but rarely equip them to do so and lastly fear lack of training keep many people from reaching out now this means of evangelism isn't sin but it's not as effective as what it could be that's my point it's not sin there are some biblical principles that are being applied and how these things are being done but there's a lot that isn't being done to further and strengthen the people who come into our church when this happens that's my point how to grow or evangelism a lot of people in a lot of churches around the country view this is this is how we do have Angelus them our church does or do evangelism let's have an evangelistic series but what they don't realize is there is a huge powder keg of potential in a Biblical means in the Biblical teaching that can really grow our churches and prepare us for evangelism so that of angels that series is a reaping event not a sewing and reaping event that makes sense the purpose of public meetings was intended to be a reaping event which means that you're sowing season all throughout the year in your community. Continually investing in your community year round and the guy that comes into the pastor that preaches is just doing a reaping event for people that you already have contact with many churches that that takes time and it takes preparation it takes work a lot of folks think we need to do evangelism and they just jump into this but I want to show you something this afternoon that makes this ten times as effective so I'm not saying don't do this necessarily I'm saying there's something even more effective to prepare this to be even better that makes sense. So here's the benefits of starting your evangelism of small groups it's located in the home which already is. Less intimidating to get somebody to walk through the doors of a church is a miracle today and I don't mean that because churches are all bad I don't mean that but just to have someone had the willingness and the courage to set foot in a church can be difficult very difficult especially a church they don't know anything about says what I lived a half hour from three B.N. for twenty one years of my life and had never heard of a seven am. Never heard of one and so we don't know what they're about right you guys we're going to church in a different day and I say you guys meaning me to now I was baptized person Lord was brought in the message through three B.N. and eventually went to arise but it's in a location that can be intimidating small groups or not this is just someone's home and it's a friend of them typically right you don't dislike. Them I guess you could but you only have a sign of the laundromat saying small group at my house like typically you know them already right so it's less intimidating. There's a substantively smaller group present than at a church service some people don't do well with large crowds I just don't know what all these people are about but if it's a smaller area and a smaller group of people it's easier it's casual right no suits required no dress code to try to figure out it's casual and there is some activity or meal or both that makes them more comfortable and it will discuss more of this in a moment I was given the overview of how they continue to run and the group participation is welcomed and encouraged and everybody has something to do for our church services today are basically to the exclusion of member participation unless they do scripture reading or children story but that was a way the early church started so you see there's a big difference here there's a lot more participation it's more comfortable to be around for visitors for new folks it's way better in that sense but will continue now laypeople are doing the boots on the ground investment and instruction instead of just a bible work or a pastor we're no longer looking to are one person who does those types of things we all are actively involved in investing in people in instructing them in investing in them. A community is being formed inside of the community of the church right the church is the tell the community the small group is the neighborhood if you will so you're building a community within the community which strengthens the larger whole that makes sense. Members and visitors have a safe place to be vulnerable and to grow in grace together for me to stand up in the middle of a church service until people what I'm battling with commune to mitigating the larger the church the more intimidating it is but for me to be in a small group of monks friends I see every week that know me that know my heart in my burdens for them to be able to have that time with me that's a safe place for me to tell my story yeah a lot safer. And. Instead of being the visitor instead of hoping the visitor plugs in with three or four members after the series ten to twelve people are bonding together before a series ever happens statistics typically show that individual six series after that happens during that transitional period and some of being baptized if they don't get plugged into at least three to four church members they will not stay. But what if you had them connected to ten to twelve people before they ever had to do evangelistic series there's a safe community for them already does that make sense it's like a church within the church if you will you know why because the church is the people not the building. Now. Even if they struggle to connect with others in the church they have a bond with their small group and discipleship continues after the series by the members it's a great format. Everyone gets to have a voice and feel valued and listened to instead of staring at the pastor relying on him to do everything we all have a seat at the table we all have something to contribute. And pastors now have less of a burden on their shoulders to deal with by themselves many pastors in North America are dying right now because they're doing everything by themselves and they don't know how to get their members involved they done there. Preaching sermons their guilt in them to death and sermons that they have to but we just can't scare people up to do outreach is the hardest thing in the world to get laid people involved in boots on the ground ministry because we don't know what to do we assume that ministry must be preaching and I can't preach I'm afraid of people but it doesn't have to look like that can you invite people to your home and have group discussions about spiritual topics can you cook a meal for some folks can you be hospitable and kind and be their friend way I can do that I just can't preach you don't have to. Small groups are a great way to get laypeople of all and for them to realize that they actually have a part to play too and that they don't have to feel it that have a Ph D. in theology to do still you all have gifts and talents that can be used for the Kingdom right now you don't have to be something more to do something for Jesus you can do something with what you have now right Moses was asked what's in your hand why can't speak well in this that the other thing and God asked him a very awesome question he says what's in your hand Moses. Will stick throw down. It became a snake right you have something you can do all of us in the parable of the Talents everyone had at least one talent right there given talents we had this is a much safer and easier way to get people engaged and to start a process plus you get to know your fellow church members better too and a lot of churches people just never even know each other that can happen this is a way to fix that now to be clear this is not an either or but rather a both and not that we do we either do public meetings or we do small groups it should be both but the small groups make the public meetings that much more effective that makes sense and this is a brief overview I want to validate this biblically now there's four main points I want to go through and then I want to kind of lay them out the first is in the Garden of Eden the Garden of Eden was meant to be a school based upon the home we see this in Genesis one and two and specifically the book education chapter two. Moses is. Also from Jethro in the pattern of Israel the Old Testament as for the next chapter eighteen for the ministry of Jesus and also for the book of Acts So let's go to the even school this is from the book education chapter two. The system of education instituted at the beginning of the world was to be a model for man throughout all after time as an illustration of its principles a model schools established in Eden the home of our first parents the Garden of Eden was the school room nature was the lesson book The Creator Himself was the instructor and the parents of the human family were the students another thing they were involved in there was labor they had so far of activity that got them involved it was it was an object lesson in of itself right they were tending the garden they were learning things about the character of God through the activity that they had it also brought diligence and community to their experience right now obviously there's only two of them but the idea was for that to be the case she closes that chapter with this paragraph saying the system of history of Education Institute at the beginning of the world was to be a model for man throughout all after time. That's the same slide it didn't change. The Garden of Eden was a representation of what God desired the whole earth to become So the method he started with there was meant to be duplicated in replicated all throughout the world. And it was his purpose that as the human family increased in numbers they should establish other homes in schools like the one that he had given it was meant to be populated all over the US in the course of time the whole Earth might be occupied with homes and schools where the words and works of God should be studied where the students should thus be fitted more and more fully to reflect throughout the endless ages the light of the knowledge of his glory the idea here was that it was going to enable them to. Reflect the character of God through the things that they were learning the community they were building. And the activities that they gazed in right so here's some principles we can take then in summary from the school activities that teach us about the principles of heaven are a great way to instruct and grow character in a small group setting and when a group is successful this model and some of its members should be used to start another small group there's a first principle Here's the second this is X is Chapter eighteen I'm going to read the text because it's super clear ECUs eighteen a verse thirteen it says and so it was on the next day that Moses sat to judge the people and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening this is after the Exodus from Egypt there starting there's a whole bunch of people nearly a million of them they all got problems. And all of them are standing in line like at the D.M.V. waiting for Moses to solve all their problems and so when Moses father last saw all that he did for the people he said What is this teaching that you are what is this thing that you are doing for the people why do you alone sit and all the people stand before you from morning until evening this is basically the Center for most of our pastors our local churches there doing everything OK. It continues and Moses said his father in law because the people come to me to inquire of God when they have a difficulty they come to me and I judge between one and another and I make known the statutes of God and His laws now does teaching the laws of God and helping people resolve difficulties is that a sin. Yes or No No Is that a good thing yes but look at Jethro says next. Moses father in law said to him the thing that you do is not good way to many giving the lot of people resolving differences is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you you are not able to perform an by your side. Self This is not the me is that God or James. Listen now to my voice Jethro says and I will give you counsel and God will be with you stand before God for the people so that you may bring the difficulties to God and you shall teach them the statutes and the laws and show them the way in which they must walk and the work that they must do. Moreover you shall select from all the people able min such as fear God min of truth hating covetousness and placed over them to be rulers. Of thousands rulers of one hundred rulers of fifties and rulers of those that last number tense the ideal number for small groups and let them judge the people at all times then it will be the every great matter they shall bring to you but every small matter they themselves shall judge so will do so will be easier for you for they will bear the burdens with you. The idea is not leading all the way to upon the leader you spread this weight around and you build and strengthen the community in smaller groups the nation of Israel was literally broken up into groups always down until ten join our small groups are meant to be you are between six and twelve generally. If you do this thing and he says and God so commands you then you will be able to endure and all those people will also go to their place in peace so Moses heeded the voice of his father in law and did all that he had said God commanded this God commanded the system of order God commanded this system of ministry So an example some things that we can garner from this and summary from this particular story is that manageable numbers ensure that the group can be fruitful and removes the crushing load off of the pastor by equipping laypeople and church office holders to actively participate in the growth in the instruction of the church what we do is not good. Now we are Seventh Day Adventists are better at. Has the most evangelicals in fact I came in they have this church I wrestled with this initially because of the pastor wasn't in church every week I thought the church was going to fall apart Well if the church needs a pastor to be there for a week or it's going to fall apart it deserves to fall apart. The churches are meant to be run by elders the pastors are meant to start churches to equip to train and to exhort the members and to grow new churches that's what the role of a pastor is biblically South America gets that right other places the war get that but North Americans we really wrestle I can't function if I don't have a pastor the best time for our church is generally is the time that they don't have a pastor because now they have to do something right the Mr Fix It's gone I've got to fix my own house and I was hired as a bible worker in the span when the church didn't have a pastor and it was very helpful for them now granted Bible workers are kind of like pastors in a sense of doing a lot of the leg work but we as members can do work too and that's the point is being made here break them down into these different categories now. Jesus is approach we read this in the discipleship message but it's relevant Jesus lived for them during His earthly ministry he spent more time with these twelve men than with everyone else in the world put together so how many people was Jesus investing in. Wealth. And he continues he says he spent more time with him than everyone else in the world put together this is astonishing when you really think about it at the end of the Son of God's time on earth he'd state everything in his relationship with these twelve guys and in the middle of his prayer and John seventeen he even mentions that one of them Judas is lost so now we're down to eleven these eleven guys with a small group key word they're responsible for carrying on everything that Jesus had begun they didn't think they could function without Jesus. They were miserable for thirty six hours while Jesus was in that tomb absolutely miserable because all their hopes were set to a man who was this tall by this wide of the voice that sounded like this older holder tied to a purse. And when that person was gone the whole world fell apart around them but Jesus did not want to be their walker Jesus wanted to enable them to walk he wanted to be their physical therapist not their walker he was going to enable him to function without his help obviously you don't function without Jesus you know what I mean but to have Jesus there physically wasn't going to be necessary because he had the gift of the Holy Spirit and they had been trained know what to do and could do it themselves same model here same exact idea this is the way Jesus ran his ministry. One of his final moments with him is captured in Matthew twenty eight the eleven gathered together in Jesus said all of the already in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you and surely I am with you always to the very end of the age Matthew twenty eight hundred twenty. After intentionally spending as life on Earth with these eleven men Jesus told them Now you go out and do the same with others so the mega strategy of Jesus again was to make disciples very similar format here isn't it so we see it in Eden we see the establishment of the Nation of Israel and we see it in the ministry of Jesus breaking people down into small groups to further the work of the whole that makes this same idea. Now the level of investment you make in these people is what will bring about its success that's what this morning's message was about laying down your life for them and laboring for them as Christ labored for his disciples is the means that we should be using is the method that we should use in our small groups that is getting together and drinking tea together right this is these are real people that really matter and if you have the understanding of discipleship that we covered in divine service if you bring that into a small group you can just pour the love of Christ in these people every week church members you can actually do it in reach in small groups not just our. All tell you a secret here this is going to go on audio verse probably so i need be careful because our church members former church members may have heard it may hear this but when I did my church trainings at my church when I was a viable worker in an elder I was not just doing the bible studies the Bible study training for my members so that they would know how to give Bible studies I was also doing with his image with them as a form of in reach to show them Christ and our message which many people don't know exists I was using This is a means of strengthening the faith of our current members and equipping them to invest in visitors and new members so it makes sense to actually twofold small groups of the same thing you're inviting people to your small groups to all of us to grow together not just I got things figured out but in community more things are brought to bear we see things that we didn't see before by group discussion it's really really helpful now the early church. I'm going to do a brief explanation here I'm going to close with a close that's going to blow your mind there's an article written by a guy in one thousand nine hundred three in ministry magazine that is so awesome I just have to read a fair portion of it to you when we close but the early church and chapter two of the book of Acts the church is a one accord and it preaches the sufferings of Christ with power so the Gospel was their main emphasis the premium in this is and their message was the sufferings of Jesus OK but it went on from there doctrine fellowship and prayer are a daily occurrence for the church OK the for the whole church so they're continually focusing on everything doctrine fellowship and prayer it's a daily regular habit of theirs third they're heavily involved in service and benevolence they're taking care of the less fortunate right they're giving financially for the cause radically by the way and they're involved in service right they were doing funerals for people who couldn't afford to pay for them that was on the early ministries of the church giving people proper burials doing other things as well. Actually to verse forty six and forty seven so continuing daily with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart verse forty seven praising God and having favor with all the people and the Lord added to the church daily those who are being saved but notice from house to house they had fellowship together and growth together they started meeting at homes now some people like to use passages like this and the idea of small groups to justify staying away from the church that wasn't the intention or this was to grow the church not to be done instead of Church there's a really big difference really big difference. For verse thirty two through thirty five now the multitude of those who believe or of one heart and one soul this bonded these folks together right they didn't just sit in the same building together they were in it together and heart and mind and doctrine and fellowship neither did anyone say the any of the things he possessed was his own they were just looking out for themselves they gave freely to anyone who had need but they had all things in common and with great power the Apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and great grace was upon them all nor is there any one among them who lacked. In our churches say that there was not any one among them who lacked for all who her or her possessors of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold and lay them at the Apostles feet and they distributed to each as anyone had need that's actually another one of the things David Platt mentions in his book that he was convicted of the fact that my lifestyle is not consistent with the wife style the early church there are needs in our church there are needs that I could do something about if I structured my life differently if I reply or a tie is the way that I spent my money what I invested in right I'm investing in things I can't take with me but what if I invested some of those means and things I could take with me souls the furthering of the. Search that makes sense really good book in dealing with that idea that the American dream is not Christianity it's not they're not the same so he continues it continues here. In summary of the early churches experience there was a sense of community that was very crucial to the health and growth of all in the small group right this is what we don't have at times and some of our churches is a sense of community right there's a place that we go to every week but they have a sense of a genuine bonded community we may not have that as much but we could if we had more time together and small groups as a way to fix that it bonds our church closer together and it's a safe place to bring someone to start to grow in grace in our message growing in fellowship and service can do more for the health and building of the church the nearly anything yeah. So kind of a summary of those four summaries from those four topics even school activities that teach us about the principles of heaven or a great way to instruct and grow character in a small group setting and when a group is successful this model and some of its members should be used to start another small group and we will get into the nuts and bolts of this in a moment and how to do a small group Moses in Israel manageable numbers insurers of the group can be fruitful and removes the crushing load of off of the pastor by equipping laypeople by quipping members and church office holders to actively participate in the growth and in the instruction of the church Jesus ministry the level of investment you make in these people is what will bring about its success laying down your life for them and laboring for them as Christ labor for his disciples again and regularly pouring the love of Christ into people consistently not to shaking their hands saying Happy Sabbath I want you to come over to my house let's get to know each other if people go to your house growing building that deep in your in your community and the early church a sense of community is so crucial to the health and growth of all in the small group growing in fellowship in service can do more again for the hell. In the building of the church the nearly anything OK So just a Biblical framework for why small groups are a good idea now how do we go about it. Pray first and foremost pray and recruit leaders to begin your groups also to share with me that you guys are reading daring to ask for more by mildew Maysan it's a great book she's an awesome girl it's really really good book that's where you can start start praying together find ways to pray and ask God what do you want us to do this how does this look how do you want to set this up in our particular context and appoint leaders to begin your groups right earnestly pray with the Lord and ask him what is this what you're asking me to do are you wanting me to start one of my home and the answer is probably yes. And start small groups and you can grow from there OK but the main thing is don't spin an entire year planning and theorizing without doing anything right sometimes we want to have everything figured out before we take any action Ellen White says that most people in that category won't do anything for the Lord. If you're waiting for all the difficulties to come out of the way you'll never obey. Just do it just get dirty make mistakes but do something Jesus can do something with something but he can't do anything with nothing right that's just simple math. He can do something with something that he can't do anything with nothing planned on meeting once a week for two to three hours two to three hours yes two to three hours here's why you don't just go in an indiscretion open a Bible as soon as the last person walks in the door you're building community. You know just changing someone is philosophy you're building community so some type of activity this goes back to the school. And I think actually I have a list of that here more in a moment but it's all defined that in a second but there's a type of activity that you do to bond together and then a meal can just be something light just a light you know you can make soups and sandwiches and you trade the responsibilities around not one person does all the work. Every week you rotate as you go and then you have a study or discussion after that right so you're not just diving right into it you're building community and then the community that you've built is now growing in grace and spiritual things together so it makes sense. You rotate houses or responsibilities from week to week we talked about that and you can have all the groups to do the same thing or you can have different studies going right so one group can be studying prophecy another group can be studying the life of Christ one can do just a book of the Bible I've got a friend in Orlando they're doing a whole bunch of small groups was doing prophecy another was doing what book are they doing you remember Hosea. Are for get Eric from salt Hussein he's doing a small group on a crazy book you think you do it on the way it's on the I think books of the Bible addiction and recovery right maybe just working through addictions you can do study guides right there's different ones amazing facts has one there's a truth link study guides at libraries put out there's. It is written is put out study guides they're nicely printed some are better for small groups and others write Q. and A format doesn't work as well the small group is discussion based just depends if you like them or opinion and then afterwards just let me know I can give you my two pesos groups can be comprised based upon geography so there's a study out in the neighborhood were Oswald lives there's another study the neighborhood where Charles lives right there's another you can spread of that have you'd like to but you can do it by geography you can do a men's group a women's group a youth group the activity itself like woodworking or gardening or cooking or running club or a book club that your activity can be something like this so you're actually doing this as a way of learning skills but the groups that you're doing your activities should be something that teach you about Jesus right so your group should not be fantasy football yeah. Right not fantasy football but doing something like woodworking or gardening cooking running a book club something where you can learn lessons about the Gospel in hell. You go about it yeah so make sure activities are reasonable in essence. Consistency and commitment are so important if people don't commit to this it will fall apart so you need to understand that for the growth of your church and for the growth of your own spiritual life we need community and showing up for an hour and being nice to someone in nice clothes is not growing community it's tolerance in a lot of our churches if we really want to grow community yet cost something but isn't that what you were made for Isn't that why Christ called us to be Christians was to build and be a community so consistency and commitment needs to be understood if more than three people can't be in your group you get to start with a minimum of six OK a minimum of six up to twelve fifteen is a maximum that's kind of a big group so generally six to twelve but you know what you get to the point a like two or three people can't make it then you see the cancer for that we can resume the following week you wanted to be regular So not don't you don't want to do something where you take summers off for instance it needs to be something that's regular and growing your church because it's not just again you guys having Philip one with another but you're also inviting people to it right now I'll explain more about the invitation process here in a second again minimum of six people maximum of fifteen ten to twelve is ideal now simply close or open. You want them to be simply closed predominately And this is the reason why if you have a new phase coming in at there every week it's very difficult for people to feel open to feel that they could be vulnerable so the idea is you get now is someone brings a visitor they get the approval the rest of the group hey do you mind if I bring a visitor this weekend no problem they can is come in and join the group as you go from there but your community is involved in how you work through this yeah there are two handouts I want to give Oswald two articles that are super helpful one of them is based on best practices on small groups what worked for them what hasn't and years of experience another one is. The trajectory historically as to why these are important that's part of the article in the read close both of those are super super helpful but sitting close is the best way to go about it to ensure that you're protecting the coffin. And the community aspect of this is it makes sense. And then you know again if you get invited visitor to say hey you guys cool me bring in someone they I think they want to they want to find some spiritual community they're looking to do that yes and it's a safe place for them to grow in grace and ask questions right to be brutally honest with you our savvy schools a majority of them around this country are not safe to bring a visitor. Because too many of our members would just spout off their opinions without any form of filter whatsoever. They're railing on the Catholics the railing on the president on Obama or whatever in all this foolishness whatever you're trying to bring a Vizard or church in the first impression they get is all the way people speaking their minds instead of talking about the Bible. And a small group is a place where you can protect them you can prepare them now I'm not saying our churches are trash I'm not saying that at all but I'm just being honest this is a place where if you've been afraid even to bring people to church this is a great place to start because they're connected to you not to the building. They're connected to community members not a building so even if they encounter this some people aren't as friendly to them right maybe this mill like cigarette smoke and so on makes an offhand comment of the church they know you they're connected to you there's a chance of them coming back that there would have been otherwise yeah they had to happen in one of my churches people left because they someone in front of them said I smell cigarette smoke like in the person got up and they left because they thought well they don't want me here because I smell a cigarette smoke so they excuse themselves right stuff like that can happen they're well intended they just don't have any tact in that they're not bad people they just don't realize that what they're saying and how they're doing it just as bad it's toxic for church growth but this can alleviate a lot of that because they have a community within the church they're plugged into as opposed. I just hope they make it six months I just hope they survive after the series this helps alleviate a lot of that. Let's see spend a fair amount of time in prayer together the clothes take this opportunity to pray together about your birds about your children right if you've got children there at the church wrestle for wrestle with with absolute tenacity in your small group together right maybe you've got a parent that's out of the church or a sister or spouse or whatever these are the places where you can give those requests in a safe way and you guys can earnestly pray together now you're doing team work right your community building again by building team you guys have the same objective together you're leading in a particular direction that makes sense something is unifying you and then when you start telling testimonies to each other Hey remember how we were praying about you know my son needing a job he got a way better job than we ever would have imagined. My son came to church this week you know stand this is powerful you guys super powerful so that's another thing you can do it can be very good bond builder amongst your group but I want to give some more points on this first. It gives people the therapeutic opportunity to express their burdens many people are dying because they just can't get the weight off their back to L. Why does say that are permeating should not be a place where people can come in and their or their lack of testimony literally brings a cold hush over the church and that chill she said is very hard to get rid of for the rest of the service right so our prayer time in our church services should not just be glorifying the devil and all the things that he's doing well in this world but giving praise to God but in a small group this is an opportunity for us to go to war all you're really doing is putting a wanted poster on the wall and we're going to get busy that's what prayer meeting should be and that since you're going to have her meeting let's pray if we're not going to pray let's not call her beating we'll call Bible study before going to there's no way back praying in the Bible you don't find it. If we're going to do it let's go to war so in your small groups you're putting a wanted poster and you're saying Lord we want this want this dealt with my son is not in the church and I'm not OK with that and we as a small group we're going to wrestle for this young man's soul until he comes home that's a safe place for you guys to do that in that community you can do that. Second it models a life of dependence on God for our needs and we really need that most of us are fat and well fed in our minds when it comes to our needs we're Laodicea that we think that we're fairing well we're OK We don't need anything but when you start to build a lifestyle of prayer you realise just how much you need one and two when you start praying for people to get real problems you don't complain as much when I started to get serious about intercessory prayer I started complaining a whole lot less because what people are going through is just crazy and that's not to downplay what's happening in the church people in the church got problems to him in but when you start praying for those problems you realize you know God has been really really good to me you know it's easy to get frustrated because I need new tennis shoes but when you realize that people are dying you know of lung cancer and other things it kind of helps to can text allies many newcomers are entirely ignorant that they can bring their problems to God and expect answers. Her wholly ignorant to this. We think well I don't know what to do like you can come to Jesus Jesus wants to hear about that yes he does doesn't matter how small how big you can bring all that stuff in this is a safe place to do it and it programs are mine to realize oh I can come to God with that all right then in a small group setting you can take requests and share praises this informs your prayers and allows you to take the requests to church prayer groups so that they're well prayed for and likely to see a miracle firsthand and that's potent faith building training to hear testimonies and even see miracles firsthand when you can stand up and. Church and say we as a church of him praying for this which doesn't happen a lot when we say we as a church are praying what we're really saying is whenever they ask for prayer requests I said something. But are those people praying for that during the week praise God if they are but really is that the case but if you as a small group get together and start laboring in this way you can start saying that we prayed and we saw answers not just I hope someone going to care enough to remember yeah it changes everything then these are real people you can actually open up about your deeds to church members right. Now this is a super powerful lesson for us today I'm certain reading from this article it's from an article called small group ministry by Craig Dawson again this was written like one nine hundred ninety three. And I'm going to read maybe four or five slides with from this article but it's so good that I'm going to excuse it if and if you don't like it at the sermons over after that then you can just go home so he's giving the context now how small groups are being run in the early church OK and the impact and then what happened whenever the Dark Ages came about is powerful I've never heard this in my life he says the move it was both Christ sintered and people centered seeking to fulfill the potential of all of the members so the church was for everybody not just the elders right not just the Bible workers for everybody the collective body of believers felt a sense of belonging to one another and to God they found joy and strength in fellowship and at the same time they found true meaning in life by serving one another in the outcasts of society in a common goal that bonded them together. In their worship early Christians gathered under trees along the sea shore many met publicly in the open markets and even in the midst of impromptu gatherings the Spirit of God rested upon them you'd never believe this. The spirit of Jesus does not need a building to bless the people you guys are homeless right now and you were meeting in this beautiful pavilion in the out of the. Ors you don't have to have a building for the spirit of Jesus to do something for you in a work in this congregation and I'm saying you don't need a building I'm just saying that even in this situation the spirit can still work you can still invite people to church not to be afraid of that the Spirit of God rested upon them the preaching and praying of the early church became so effective that it became a threat to the Jewish religious establishment many Christians were banned from the temple and in prison because of the controversy that surrounded their presence so they got forced out of their situation. The church also became too much for the Roman government to handle imper Nero banned all believers from meeting in public places he declared Christianity illegal violators who were caught were punished. And rather than hampering the church nears edict actually became the catalyst for greater growth the more they were persecuted the more they grew since believers could no longer proclaim their message in the streets where they take it. To people's homes and what happened the church grew as never before persecution became the torch they carry the message from house to house while Nero was busy burning the Christians in public the Christians were even busier in private proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nero did know that the benefits of the Christian faith were far greater than the sufferings he inflicted upon the believers he didn't understand that the love and care they receive from one another far surpassed the power of his death threats now could you say that of most of our churches in North America today. Because death threats are coming. With a way that we can prepare for what's coming is this small groups. He didn't understand that the loving care they receive from one another far surpassed the power of his death threats in the context of home fellowship the Christian church was fortified in established the body of Christ offered a refuge for those ostracized from their own families so maybe you don't have a family be. The decision made for Jesus to cause a lot of hardship for me and my parents for the rest of my family but I found a community in the church and in my small group of friends whatever member might need materially was satisfied by the fellowships mutual assistance charity if you convert a Muslim you're asking them to get rid of their security blanket because any one of their cousins can give them a job they have really big families all their families have opportunities whenever you ask them to become a Christian they're leaving all of that to use a church have something to offer them the early church did. That doesn't empower you know. Being in enjoyment you know not doing anything either obviously but you help them get on their feet and do their thing. The small group structure was conducive in solving problems mending broken hearts singing songs to encourage one another offering prayer proclaiming truth to visitors and leading sinners to Christ is perfect for all of that and they found that nearly church there were no sleeping Pew members with this type of ministry then he goes on to make the point the after Constantine's conversion the church was taken over and everything changed Wissam to the language he uses here it's awesome and it's going to be scary because it's just like what we talked about the very beginning of the message the church moved from the homes in a brick buildings that looked more like mausoleums than places of fellowship Constantine build a labyrinth buildings churches once intimate became institutionalized policy took precedence over people and meetings became more important than ministry instead of the church being a place where loneliness ended it became the place where loneliness began. In the home church of Vironment people were expected to participate but in a large congregational atmosphere at the flock scattered. We can't trust laypeople with that stuff are you going to wear a suit going to be an officeholder to read Scripture. Right to to get involved in an active ministry in the church in small group structures people can speak and share the word. Of boldness but this became impossible in large gatherings the whole church became swelled up with the arrival of bricks and mortar and so began the slow death of the vibrant church it did not take long before all preaching or public speaking was centered in the pulpit. That was it not do any work outside a church would hear about something go hear my priest you listen to him. Choirs took over the civil singing of the fellowship while members learn the great Christian act of spectatorship before long they also learn how to be bumps on the church log. With a church switch from living rooms to to a building and professional staff at last moments of the Christian army now became little more than a sophisticated cheering section for the newly established clergy the clergy took the Scriptures from the people not allowing them to read the word for themselves and all eyes became directed to the pope put in all instruction came from the Lone Ranger of the gospel. Were doing that to. Such a worship environment cause spiritual crib death for the new babes joining the church no structure existed to nourish their growth and local congregations became weak and cold the church plunged into the dark ages. He literally makes the point here that the dissolve ing of small groups and this structure for the church led to the Dark Ages. But he closes the article by making the point oh wait a minute there's a lot more that will go to that non preachers were considered lame in it's a term I've even using right now a concept not found in the Bible with the scriptures out of the hands of the common people preachers exerted theological authority unchallenged by members we as a people don't study our Bibles as we ought we just regurgitate what Danny Shelton said what Mark Finlay said was somebody else said on T.V. but we're not studying for ourselves well what if they're not right. I'm not saying they are but what if they aren't How are you even going to know we're literally doing the same thing that's happening by the institution that started the dark ages. We put speakers on pedestals and we leave Bible study by the wayside you know how they got there studying their Bible they're no better than you they're just someone that studied their Bible you can study your Bible you know different. So. Without the Word of God to spur them along members assumed a passive role in ministry whereas the church an earlier time to join skyrocketing growth she now became entrenched in the hole that she dug herself. Against ministry magazine one thousand nine hundred three written by. Craig Dawson and I'm assuming that whole article I had never heard someone mention that the last thing he says here he goes on to make the point that the Reformation was launched with You'll never believe it small groups. Wild Indians meeting in homes they went infiltrated colleges and started small groups wild Indians Westlands did the same thing so this is what the work was meant to look like this is what's going to grow our churches this is what's going to ensure that they succeed and it decaf Elmo sizes the Aves church there were no wonder does anyone saying where the Catholics Please don't misunderstand me but are our ecclesiology and our way which we do church can seem that way if all we're doing is relying upon one person to do everything for us we make our pastor the Pope no one can make it is no one can do anything no one knows how to function apart from that and that isn't what God intended for us God intended for the pastor to be the one that gives guidance that gives instruction that gives mentor ship and is out start planning churches our elders should be heavily involved in the day to day offerings of the church and what goes on. And our elders are to be laboring for the Minister for the members of the church deacons too that's the way the structure was designed. But we have North American a sized our church. We've let the American dream corrupt our church structure too in that sense of just assuming that my local church I can't do anything as I'm not a pastor I don't have a degree in theology I don't know how to preach Yeah but you can invite people to your homes so I think since so there's very practical ways that we can engage in this so when you're doing your small groups. You can start like one of the ways that we kind of encourage young people to start small groups as we start giving them videos that they can use and little discussion guys that they can use with the videos just to start you're inviting people to not a hostile environment you're not going straight into the mark of the beast the first time they come to visit your house if you're growing in grace you're discussing Christian topics together and you from there you start going into doctrinal studies right so you can deal with practical stuff first and then and graduate to doctoral studies but you're getting people comfortable in an environment where they can be vulnerable where they're willing to learn together but there's. I thought I had something on principles for this and I don't see that there. I don't know where there is this small groups aren't for everybody it isn't for everybody some people and what I mean by this there's two applications for one people to be scared of being around people and is in that environment you like to be difficult for them some of those things can be overcome some can't but here's where you really need to be careful small groups people are not coming to hear a sermon. Nor are they coming to preach a sermon. So your role as a small group leader is a moderator your job is to facilitate discussion not to monopolize discussion and your job is to stop somebody who's monopolizing discussion. This is one of those areas where I mentioned I was sad earlier that you want this to be a safe environment for everyone to participate. What happens is as someone flaps their gums nonstop for ten straight minutes no one else wants to talk no one else feels like they're going to be able to talk because if I bring up anything he's going to chime in again and he's not going to stop. So you need to have ground rules when you start your small groups that everyone needs to know if you want to crack down on somebody who didn't know you do everybody know that this is a place where everyone is meant to share we want our comments to be brief and to the point to further the topic of discussion right if you want to go teach a Sabbath school lesson somewhere you can go do that somewhere but this is different so it makes sense you want this to be a welcome open environment for all to participate so your job as a moderator is to find ways to bring response out of people who may be quiet. Ask them questions what did you get of that that text stand out to you and int because we're so used to not being able to participate starting small groups can be kind of scary quiet and awkward because no one's allowed to participate so wait a minute I can actually say something now I don't even know what to say because we've been trained for so long to not think for ourselves in a study for ourselves not be able to speak for ourselves typically the way the lot of services are structured it makes it difficult things is one of the reasons why I always said to not expect to serve every week because it kind of deteriorates the idea of how we engage now they preach sermons in her day a person got up stood in front of a bunch of people like you like what's happening here and they gave a full length message to the church I'm not saying preaching sermons is bad my point is if that's all our church looks like we're missing the point the point a church was a build community so just some things to consider there's other principles I know I typed in my slides so I don't know what happened with that B.L.S. cause of prayer than it will will go. God I want to thank you for the reminder today of the value of a soul the value of communion with you and the value of building community in our churches I just pray that the information shared in the resources left will be a tremendous blessing to the light beers church here that you would do something wonderful for them. In their community and in blessing their community. In which they abide I just pray for the leadership and for the members here that you would give them the wisdom the discernment the commitment and the buy in to really do this thing and to go all in and I pray there's any ways that we can be of the help in providing resources and other things that you would guide us in that as well but I just pray for their prosperity. In a biblical sense that there would be a strong healthy fellowship here that is inviting that is attractive that is tactful that is safe and that the community would want what they have and that you would grow this company here even more greater things would happen in the name Jesus. Jesus we love you we think you would Jesus. You know this media was brought to you by audio a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about you know if you would like to listen to more sermon. Visit W.W.W. audio or.

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