Small groups can be life-changing. You have the opportunity to develop friendships, take steps of faith, and help others take their first or next step of faith. Plus, groups often have fun snacks.
But, let’s face it, there are also groups that flop. If you’ve been burned in the past, don’t give up. I’ve had a bad meal from time to time, but I haven’t given up eating. Just as you would pick a new restaurant after a bad meal (or no longer allow your roommate to cook), pick a new group. Don’t give up on experiencing biblical community.
Luke paints a dynamic picture of what authentic, life-giving groups can produce when they utilize three, simple practices. These verses from the book of Acts capture God’s heart for small groups.
SPOILER ALERT: Groups that do these things make lifelong memories.
42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
43Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.
44All the believers were together and had everything in common.
45They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.
46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,
47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
What are the three practices modeled in Acts 2:42-47? They Listen // Love // Live out their faith.
None of these is independent of one another. When you do one, you do the others. What does this look like?
LOVE = love God and one another
People who don’t love God don’t take God’s Word seriously. People who don’t love God treat others disrespectfully or for their own benefit. Conversely, an authentic love for God creates a hunger to know God and a willingness to care for people. This leads to the second practice.
LISTEN = listen to God and to one another
A love for God creates a hunger to hear from God. Those who take time to listen to God interact with God’s Word and its implications for their lives. Simultaneously, they listen to one another with eagerness and enthusiasm. Listening is hard work, but when it’s motivated by love it creates a natural outflow for the third practice.
LIVE out your faith
What was the ultimate result when they “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship” (when they loved and listened)?
- Everyone was filled with awe.
- They praised God and enjoyed the favor of all the people,
- And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Is it possible for a small group to Love, Listen, and Live out their faith on a regular basis? Absolutely.
Good snacks make an average group palatable, but biblical community transforms lives.
Is it easy? Not a chance.
So, regularly emphasize these practices when you’re together and encourage your group to live them out with one another throughout the week. Doing so will cast vision for the life-change God wants to produce in your group.
And when you do these things—over time—your small group will be a place to celebrate God’s activity and to seek support. Good snacks make an average group palatable, but biblical community transforms lives.
QUESTION (leave a comment below)
Which of the three (Love / Listen / Live out your faith) is the one you want to further develop in your life? Why?