Eight weeks ago I attended the first meeting of what could become a “new” type of gathering for me. I have spent most of the past twenty years or so as part of one large church or another. This whole time I was either on the ministry staff or a completely immersed volunteer.
As part of ministry teams it was the “job” to “teach” others what to believe about God and Jesus and a whole bunch of other stuff.
One of the churches I was part of had “off campus,” “small groups.” In those groups we primarily discussed books about the Christian Faith, about the Bible, about how to manage finances, about maintaining a healthy marriage – you get the idea. I came to believe that THIS approach was the way it should be. In our thinking it was floated around that the book of ACTS, Chapter 2, verses 42 through 47 contained the scriptural basis for our type of small group.
“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42–47, NASB95)
Scriptural basis – I actually say things like this. I believed this. So breaking bread from house to house, and being devoted to the Apostles teaching, fellowship and prayer were the activities that made for a great church – and we tried to duplicate these practices, and they did make for a great church. But the approach is just an approach.
A method that works is still a method and something in the back of my mind says that methods are not what being a Christian is all about. Most everyone of us who follow Jesus Christ will say that it is our relationship with Him that makes us Christian – but it seems that the largest result of this relationship is a gathering that takes place once per week and then various programs, most of which, compete with things like football, the school band and school dances. I mean, did God, creator of the universe and of you and of me, leave His realm of Heaven to be born in a manger, and die brutally on a cross do this so I could learn how to manage my finances or sing “Shout To The Lord,” (one of my favs by the way!)?
I have thought this very strange for the past several years. Hence the experiment.
Right now our gathering is a small group of men with one thing in common – we all have an overwhelming desire to live with/in Jesus as He directs our every step. We are seeking Him through prayer – study of the Scripture – TOGETHER, and bearing each others burdens.
Eight weeks have passed and I know that we have begun to love each other. We keep coming back. We are all excited about meeting. I can’t wait to see what God will do with us.
I will keep you posted.
Robert Curtis, The ichthysgeneration.