Other than the foundation, the next most important part of a home is its frame. Without the frame, there would be nothing to support the walls or roof of a house. The frame is the skeletal system of a house and is what provides structure and covering to the remaining elements. Once the frame is in place, the utilities and the protective outer coverings can be added along with the doors and windows in their proper locations. Then, the beautification process can begin – painting, flooring, furnishings, and décor. Once all is in place, the house becomes a fully useful place to live our lives and spend our time, a place to rest, and to play, a place to laugh, and to cry. The house becomes a home.
Like a house, New Life Groups needs a framework, something that will provide the structure and support that will ensure that we who serve within its walls are safe, are healthy, and are comfortable – able to take aim at our intended purpose.
Last week I shared that the center of the target for Groups is discipleship. This is our aiming point, the place where we will see our purpose fulfilled. However, if we do not have a proper structure guarding us from the elements that distract us and which keep us off balance, then our aim will be skewed and we will find ourselves lured toward things less affective, and which bring about minimal Christ-centered influence and spiritual growth in the lives of those we serve and minister to.
There is no better place to find healthy ministerial structure than in the scriptures. For New Life Groups, we find our structure in the book of Acts.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship,
to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” – Acts 2:42
This single verse, found in the middle of the New Testaments telling of the early churches historical story, shares with us what our spiritual ancestors found to be most important in relation to healthy biblical community and to building true disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. Within this scripture we find four elements, that if properly utilized, will guide us in our efforts, and keep us focused on the prize we strive for – the growth and spiritual maturity of our brothers and sisters.
Like the great cloud of witnesses that shared and exemplified our faith, we must devote ourselves to these very things as we lead our groups. We must emphasize the study and application of God’s word. We must seek the Holy Spirit’s influence through prayer and worship, and we must be relationally intentional as we share our stories, our homes, our food, and our very lives with one another.
Here is a quick break down of the four elements found in Acts 2:42…
Scripture: is a roadmap for spiritual growth and maturity. Placing a high priority upon the study, proclamation, and prayer of God’s Word is the best way for believers to learn the voice of God, increase faith, and to discern the will of God. Scripture supernaturally shines the light of Christ in the darkness of our hearts and opens our eyes to the differences between the Kingdom of God and the world and how the church must present itself there within. (1 Timothy 3:16 & 17)
Prayer: is communion with and the seeking after, or pursuit, of God. Prayer includes intercession (the petition for God’s intervention), praise (the exclamation of God’s worthiness and sovereignty), worship (the expression of adoration and awe for God), meditation (the quiet contemplation of God’s presence and His spoken or written word), and soaking (the act of resting in God’s presence and receiving His direct ministry). Prayer is a powerful way of inviting God’s presence into a group setting and into the community for which the group resides. Prayer stirs the Holy Spirits activity in both people and areas and is an effective way to relationally draw near to the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 6:18; James 4:8)
Fellowship: is the intentional formation of relationship between those who call on the name of Jesus. It is the personal engagement, the connection with, and the gathering of all who strive to live in the light as Jesus is in the light. It is the activity of common worshipers sharing life together in trust, healthy communication, and welcomed biblical admonition. (1 John 1:7)
Meals: The presence of food within a group setting is a natural barrier breaker between people and is a highly effective tool in building biblical community. This is especially true when meals are shared beyond the engagement of the group so as to build stronger bonds between specific individuals and families. Meals are also a great way for groups to share and participate in the Lords table together. (Acts 2:46)
Let us emphasize the framework of Acts 2:42 as we take aim at discipleship, the center of our target, so that we truly Go Deeper and Grow Stronger.