The Image of a Small Group

“…He (Peter) went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.” – Acts 12:12

Preparing for and walking through transition can be a fearful matter. For me, as I prepared to transition into the Community Department after spending nearly eighteen years in the Hospitality Department, fear was attempting to creep in.

I have walked through transitions before, and in so doing I have gained the experience of knowing what the Lord might do to ensure His glorious fingerprints are all over the process. Yet, in this instance, I felt my finite flesh attempting to overpower my faith and replace it with nervousness, discomfort, and doubt.

As the day of transition approached and as I prayerfully waited for God’s input, I seemed to increase my own anxiety over what to do by doing what I aught not to do – over-think everything. Then, at the height of my uncertainty and in His perfect timing, our most amazing and gracious Father did what He does best. He spoke life.

His words hit my heart in picture form. With that picture came peace, wonder, and excitement. It was precisely what I had been waiting for.

Within the above Acts 12 reference is found the image that God placed in my heart. As I was preparing to enter this new world of small group leadership, not knowing what to do or what to expect, God made it all clear.

Peter is one of the most incredible and well-known disciples of Jesus; he was part of a super-team of faithful Jesus followers working diligently to plant the church that would serve the Kingdom of God for centuries to come. Jesus had risen, the Holy Spirit had come in power, and the faithful were uniting and growing daily.

Yet the success didn’t come without difficulty. There was resistance and Peter found himself right in the middle of it. Peter was arrested simply for being a follower of Christ and, as a result, found himself thrown into a Roman prison. That is until an angel of the Lord appeared and miraculously freed him.

As amazing as that part of the story is, what I really want to highlight is what happened next. Anytime we find ourselves removed from those we love, all we desire is to get back into their presence. So where did Peter go once he was free? He didn’t seek a hiding place, nor did he go home; instead, he went to “the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark.” And the reason why? Because a small group of closely connected, faith-filled friends had gathered there to pray. He went because he new these people, their hearts, and their faith. Peter was already in relationship with them, and most likely had been discipling them. When he was in trouble, it was of no surprise that they would come together and pray.

This, my friends, is what small groups are all about. It is the building of relationships, the seeking of God, the encouragement and support of one another. It is, as Acts 2:42 says, the devotion “to the apostles’ teaching, and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

I have this image of Peter’s church family pacing back and forth in Mary’s dimly lit living room: praying fervently, worshiping, and seeking God’s favor over Peter’s life. In this picture I sense God’s love and power. He is pleased and He is present.

With this picture now in my heart, the fear of transition was gone. And now, I share it with you, so that we – members of God’s family at New Life Church – can build healthy, vibrant, Spirit-led small groups all over our city that bond people together through discipleship and faith. Just as the group that prayed for Peter’s release at Mary’s house did, we will produce true supernatural results. From our dimly lit living rooms, in a faith that pleases God, and in His present love and power, our community can become a genuine city on a hill for all to see.

If this picture resonates with your heart, I am ready to join with you and get this thing going. Let’s do this!

Go Deeper, Grow Stronger

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