Life Together

by Gami Ortiz

 

If you were close enough to me this last Sunday morning to smell me, I apologize. I drove up that morning from a camping trip, and though I stopped at home to take a quick shower, it was probably insufficient to get the smell of campfire smoke off me! The camping trip was with our community group – or at least a good portion of it. And those who weren’t able to camp for the weekend came to spend the day on Saturday to hike, hang out at the campsite, play some games, sing some worship songs, have real life conversations, and just be with each other. It was wonderful. I didn’t even plan the event!! In fact, though I’m the group leader, the last couple of events our group has done, I haven’t planned. Other people in the group have desired to get together apart from our usual times. They want to do life together. I love that.

 

At Kossuth, we place a high value on gathering together. We do this every Sunday morning to worship as one body and hear the preaching of God’s word. But as important as that is, I believe it is insufficient for us to actually be the church. While gathering as a large group is essential, we simply do not get the opportunity to do life together in that setting. If you really wanted to, you could slide into a Sunday worship gathering and slip back out again without really interacting with anyone else. I’d be really surprised if you could pull that off in a community group!

 

One of my favorite passages of Scripture is of the believers after Pentecost:

 

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47, ESV)

 

If we were to stop at verse 42, I could see how Sunday mornings could accomplish that. But as we keep reading, we see evidence of things taking place outside that kind of a setting. It’s clear they were involved in each other’s lives, since they were sharing what they had and meeting the needs around them. So, either they vocalized their needs or others knew them well enough to recognize the needs. Verse 46 explicitly says they got together at the temple AND had fellowship in each other’s homes! They were intentionally investing in one another.

 

Besides fostering close relationships and caring for others’ needs, there are other benefits and reasons for being part of a community group. In groups, there is the opportunity to pray not just for others but with others. Community groups make great prayer meetings. It’s also a much better time for asking questions and exploring Scripture together. While it would be awkward for someone to raise their hand and ask Abraham a question as he’s halfway through the second point of the sermon, a community group is a great place to ask questions and discuss in more depth! It allows for interaction with the word rather than falling into passive listening. The participation in discussion facilitates greater learning of the word. It’s also a place for accountability. While we aim for sermons to have direct application to our lives, it’s in the context of a community group that we get to see it applied and encourage one another to live it out. It’s a place to exercise the love, grace, forgiveness, and perseverance that God’s word calls us to. Community groups help us engage in relationships where we can grow together and be molded more into the image of Christ.

 

This is discipleship. At the heart of our community groups is the desire for discipleship to take place. If you’re not in a community group, I want to encourage you to get plugged in. Drop me an e-mail, shoot me a text, call me, or pull me aside when you see me… I’d love to connect you with a group. If you’re already part of a group, I want to encourage you to be all in. That community group is family. Be involved in one another’s lives. Encourage one another, push each other, laugh together, have fun together, grow together, pray together… for His glory!