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Friday: Further Thought ~ An Exciting Way to Get Involved — 9 Comments

  1. There are a couple of verses in Acts that give a glimpse of the small group dynamic that existed in the early church:

    And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42 KJV

    And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Acts 2:46,47

    I know that some interpret this as communion, but I suspect it was more likely groups of people to share a meal together and in the process talk to one another about the impact of the gospel on their lives.

    Food is often a great place to start a conversation. I know one minister who conducts all his Bible studies based around the meal table. Conversation rather than preaching occurs. Listening becomes a significant part of the communication process. It is where we learn about how others think about the ideas of the Gospel.

    In some respects churches today have become personality based. We want ministers who are powerful dynamic preachers. For most of my lifetime, the focus has been on big city evangelists, and more recently media personalities. We have left it to them to do the work of spreading the gospel. Maybe the time has come for us to look at a more community-based approach where we share with one another around the meal table.

    • Thanks Maurice, your post just gave me an "aha" idea for my church, and how we could be innovative with small groups.

    • I certainly agree, Maurice - it started this way and will always remain the most effective way - personal ministry wherever, whenever, however we find ourselves inspired! 🙂

    • I found it to be a great idea as I attended a prayer meeting at our church which used this model of meal, discussion and prayer some time back. The church members were invited to attend the one hour Wednesday evening meeting for fellowship and prayer.

      At the first meeting there were three of us then the following week one more member came, then a few weeks later two more and so forth eventually we had 6 or seven regulars (which might not sound like many similarly, that was about ten percent of the church membership). I don’t know what became of the group after we moved away though.

      There is however a challenge with regards to this type of meeting, and it is this. While assisting with cleaning up at the close of one of the meetings, I overheard one member say that they preferred this prayer group since they are fed and they know that they can come straight from work on Wednesday night, to a free home cooked meal.

      Now it’s of note that only two of the members were contributing to the meal each week and others were arriving to dinner, so it is important to address this challenge in a friendly way as we see that the early church met together and shared everything and so too today we can see the value in using that model.

      Blessing to you all and do be encouraged to step out in faith having considered the challenges prayerful and kindly having prepared for those unexpectedly situations which crop up from time to time and require loving, firm yet thoughtful remedy.

    • When our church had "evangelistic" meetings on the following model, we had better success than when we spent $60,000 for an "evangelist" to come in and hold meetings:

      We called the event the "Omega" meetings, a play on the popular "Alpha" course in evangelical churches.

      Evening meetings scheduled once or twice a week at 6 pm or shortly after, beginning with a light supper, with members mingling with visitors at round tables.

      This was followed by a video presentation of a Bible teaching. Later we did the same thing with personal presentations, and it worked just as well or better.

      Then we had dessert as we discussed what had been presented.

      Each table had at least one "facilitator" for discussion, and a printed list of questions for each person. (These printed questions could be better than the downloadable ones we used.)

      Much depends on the "facilitators" at each table. They should be able to make people feel comfortable before drawing them into discussing what was presented.

      Of course it helped that we already had had a number of people attending who had not been baptized. But it was easy to invite people to this social event. Church members loved to come because of the social interaction, and that helped a lot.

      The food was much simpler than your typical potluck -- mostly soup and sandwiches. A few people were assigned to bring food. But as the event continued, others began to bring food - both members and visitors. People just liked to contribute.

      The idea was to continue doing this several times a year. I think we did this just one year before we got a different pastor who insisted everything had to be done *his* way or the highway. (We moved to another church shortly after.)

      While this worked well at church, it should work even better in homes. I'm glad this lesson caused me to remember the experience, because I've been casting about for ideas of how to reach out to neighbors. (I want to learn how to put on a plant-food-based barbecue event just to get the neighbors together socially and getting a bit better acquainted. In our climate, we can meet outdoors for much of the year.)

      Hospitality seems to be a very important part of being a Christian. See Romans 12:13, 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8, 1 Peter 4:9. We seem to have missed this Bible teaching, but there's no better time to start than now. 🙂

  2. I’ve just been reading your message this morning, Maurice, and I’m thinking today, there are a number of people coming to our churches through having watched HopeTV and other free-to-view Christian programs. They are literally just walking into our churches of the streets. I think this is a great opportunity to invite them into our homes with a meal and sharing around the table. The Holy Spirit is active in a big way now! Are WE ready?

  3. This has been an inspiring discussion of an exciting way of sharing the good news. As a community of faith we are so blessed with so many different temprement types, talents and spiritual gifts to use to reach the world with our special message.
    I remember when I was young, a long time ago, often we were only given one way depending on the lay activities leader, i.e. we are all going out to put tracts in post boxes today.
    So I am thrilled that now we have many options that enables each one to fully utilize their God given talents and spiritual gifts. Praise the LORD.

  4. Related to question # 4 -
    "Nine laypeople in the congregation caught the vision. They committed themselves to pray together and study how to establish their small group ministry effectively." I think this to be the right/only formula to start any successful, spiritually based 'project'.
    It is inspiring to see the different ways of ministry employed by others, though each one being moved to service will need to establish this service based on his/her/their own inspiration received through prayer. Each individual or group is uniquely spiritually equipped within themselves.

    The secular world uses the approach of 'brainstorming' to find the right/best solutions for projects. We, the community of Faith, seek guidance through earnest prayer to inspire and direct our thoughts about solutions. The Holy Spirit takes the whole person(s) presenting him/her/themself to Him, and chooses the RIGHT way, taking everything known and unknown into consideration.
    Psalms 37:23,24 - "The steps of a good(righteous) man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way" - this is where it all starts!
    God will direct our path - He gives us the dedication and resolve to serve, inspire our thoughts, direct the choice of ministry based on those who serve, bring about opportunities, open doors, inspire unity of heart in those who serve and those who are being served.
    Once the leaven of the Holy Spirit starts to spread, it will reach unforeseen depth and breadth in its 'outreach'.

    Mark 8:34-38; Matt.16:25; Luke 9:23-26 - (24)"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will 'lose his life for my sake', the same shall save it."
    These verses have taken on a new meaning from when I first read them. At the beginning, they seemed to speak to the physical dying - maintaining Faith under duress. Now I understand them to mean a 'daily dying(submitting), choosing to live Jesus' way of Life'; to resist being overtaken by the ever-present demands and encroachments of the cares of this world, to elevate the preference of a child of God preferring to live and serve in the Kingdom of God.
    If every waking moment is dedicated/lived in this 'mindset', we continously live a life of service to the Glory of the Father and our Savior Jesus Christ.

  5. The Lord is my sheperd, I shall not want. Ps 23:1

    # 4 Why the group worked?

    'Soon they decided to make each of their homes an evangelistic center.' That was a powerful sentence. For any small group to be successful with both church folks and unchurch folks the church folks have to be on the same page. They all have to decide about which homes will be used permanent or temporary. The times and dates. etc. People will be surprised how petty members can become about other church folks going to their homes much less unchurched folks people going to their homes. My bible says, they all were in one accord. If you are not in one accord, it will never happen.
    Many times going to someone home is different from going to church. Going to church many see it as a formal occasion where you 'dress up' in your sabbath best. All want to look their best. In a home setting, both the church and unchurch members dress in regular street clothing and a simple bag if possible for books or their bible in hand. No one seems to outdress any. The purpose is different and all can have a say in the discussion. If you eat anything, eating appears simple and non judgemental. Who partake of meat or who don't, doesn't matter in a home setting. In some church setting, no one can walk with clean meat to eat, it is a no no. At home is different, no one wants the unchurch to become vegan/vegetarians before even explaining to them why.


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