Visions from the Vincents

February 9, 2009

4. Because sgs create an atmosphere of care (Gal 6).

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joshua @ 3:41 am

Sgs provide an atmosphere for caring for the members of the church.  Who cares for the people of the church?  Some may say the really spiritual or the pastors or the deacons.  They are part right.  Let me explain.  Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  Paul speaks these words to a church, which, yes, includes pastors and deacons.  But, notice that he doesn’t isolate these words to pastors and deacons.  This message is given to the whole church.  Caring for one another fulfills the law of Christ.  If you know the previous 5 chapters of Galatians, you know those you are called to care for are those who have trusted in Jesus for salvation, are being lead by the Spirit, and are, thus, fleeing sin—Christians.  Organizationally, sgs can give us the ability to care for other members in our groups.  Sgs give focus.  Sgs also provide opportunities to easily organize a small group of people to serve homebound or even evangelize. Sgs provide a healthy context for exercising spiritual gifts.

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3. Because sgs help us use our spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:7).

Filed under: sanctification,small groups — Joshua @ 2:40 am
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1 Corinthians 12-14 has a lot to say about spiritual gifts. God gives spiritual gifts to all Christians (12:7). The unique nature of spiritual gifts is that they are all for the purpose of using to encourage other Christians. Unfortunately, not everyone can practice their spiritual gift each Sunday morning, but sgs provide a context in which you can use your spiritual gifts in a small, casual, safe environment. Some may use the gift of music, while others practice hospitality. Seeing others gifted in these ways, while they are serving others with their gifts, models gospel living to others of us who might not be so gifted in those areas and allows us to benefit from the special fragrance of heaven you carry. So, sgs also provide a context in which you can use the gifts God has given you. Another part of being a spiritual body with real fellowship is caring for one another.

February 5, 2009

2. Because sgs work Sanctification (Gal 5:13-6:10)

Filed under: sanctification,small groups — Joshua @ 2:04 pm
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Sanctification happens in the kinds of community sgs seek to create.  Sanctification is a word, which identifies the “progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives” (Wayne Grudem, ST, 756).  This is the natural outworking of a life that has been brought into right relationship with God.  God begins making his people new.  Many consider this to be a work that is entirely or mostly accomplished by the individual.  That is why you often hear people say, “My sin is none of your business.”  This may sound wise, because our culture teaches us to isolate ourselves and hide our weaknesses.  But, the first step of becoming a Christian is admitting weakness and even spiritual deadness.  As Christians, we must help one another flee sin.  In fact, as one pastor said, “all major exhortations to holy living are plural (Rom 6:1-23; Gal 5:13-6:10; Eph 4:17-6:18).  So, if we really want to live the Christian life, we need to involve others in our lives.  Sin grips us so tightly we need others to fight it.  Pastor C. J. Mahaney said, “It’s been sobering to observe others who have chosen not to participate in a local church or in small groups.  They have demonstrated a distinct lack of growth.  What’s worse, they haven’t even been aware of their spiritual stagnation” (Small Groups, 6).  Sgs have proven to address this significant need.  Not only do they address our need to pursue the good things of God and flee sin, they also prepare a helpful environment for us to be used by God.

February 4, 2009

1. Because sgs encourage biblical fellowship (1 Jn 1:1-10, Acts 2:42, Php 2:1)

Filed under: sanctification,small groups — Joshua @ 6:37 pm
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Biblical fellowship is the focus of sgs and all other reasons flow from this one. Many assume biblical fellowship automatically happens in a small church or in a church with a fellowship hall. However, many small churches and fellowship halls have never had true “biblical fellowship.” John 1 tells us that Christian fellowship begins with a special fellowship with God made possible by Jesus Christ and evidenced by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Once that relationship is made right, relationships with other Christians are brought to life. The New Testament is clear—sharing a common geographic local with another Christian doesn’t constitute biblical fellowship. Biblical fellowship centers on the Scriptures and their application. If you know me, you know I am not advocating boring relationships that do not appreciate the finer things of life like football or American Idol. But, we need to make sure our fellowship is centered on Christ or it isn’t distinctly Christian. Sgs are focused on having biblical fellowship. They serve to help us make sure that we are centering our conversations on Christ and the application that flows from life in Him. The natural outpouring of this kind of fellowship is my second reason.

February 3, 2009

Small Groups

Some of you might ask why pastors do what they do at times. New things tend to scare people. There is some wisdom to this. You want to be leery of things that have not been tested. However, there is also a certain degree of danger that we are doing old traditional things that are unhelpful. Just because something is new doesn’t mean that it is helpful or unhelpful, but just because it is old doesn’t mean it is helpful or unhelpful either. We really have to evaluate all things in light of Scripture and in light of the context we live in.

This being said, I am convinced that “Small Groups” are a significant need in local churches. This is one of the things I have been called to do in my particular local church. Though they are new to us, they are not new in general. Many churches have been involved in Small Groups in the past thirty years and that number has exploded over the past 10 years. In fact, it would be difficult for you to find an SBC church or any other denominational local church of two hundred or more members that doesn’t have Small Groups. So, more and more pastors are seeing their value. John Stott, one of our eras greatest teachers, who is about 88 years old (pastoring 63 of those years) said this, “Small groups are indispensable for our growth into spiritual maturity” (Small groups, 97). C. J. Mahanney says “A church following a biblical model will not just “have” small groups. It will not merely “offer” small groups. Rather, it will be built with small groups (Small Groups, CJ Mahanney, 3). Over the next few days, I hope you see the biblical necessity to take part in Small Groups, and why your pastors, and so many others, think they are for your good. What is a small group? It is a group of people meeting together to focus on the application of Scripture. Their primary focus is the edification of the believer, but they can also sometimes serve an evangelistic function (this is not their primary function though). For this reason, I will explore 4 reasons for small groups in the coming week.

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