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Tuesday: Organized for Service — 13 Comments

  1. Our church operates a number of small-group activities that on the surface appear to have nothing to do with spirituality. Some of them are long-term groups while others are short-term and meet a specific interest group.

    For instance, we joined a group interested in Indian cooking. It runs for about two months and we meet in the home of the leader where we prepare a particular dish or two. We work together on the preparation. Usually, the food takes time to cook and during that time we sit down and socialise. We often discuss how the Lord has led in our lives. It is a great social activity and we have got to know one another so that these folk are no longer just people who sit in pews in the same church. We know their needs, and can support them meaningfully. This year the group met by Zoom. It was a great experience sharing with one another as we cooked vegetable Korma in our own kitchens while watching what others were doing in theirs. The only thing we could not share was the aroma.

    There is another group that goes for a run every Sabbath morning, early. They meet at 7 am and off they go. I see them because I am often out bird watching with my small group at that time too. And they are back in time for church, bright-eyed and alert, not like those who have slept in till late. They often have unchurched friends running with them.

    The really good thing about these groups is that they are the sort of group that you can share with unchurched folk. They don't feel the pressure of religion but experience and appreciate the spirituality of a group of committed Christians.

    I should also mention that small groups should not be limited to church-related activity. In our area the U3A movement is quite active. While it is not the forum where you can run a religious agenda, it is a place where we can interact with others meaningfully. Carmel is involved in a Ukelele group. She learned to play the instrument from scratch and is very active in group playouts. She is also very active in a "Balance and Bones" group designed to keep older people fit and active. I run a bird watching and photography group. The really interesting thing about these group activities is that you met a lot of unchurched people and because you have a similar interest, they are easy to talk to. The fact that we are involved in the groups breaks down a lot of prejudice that these folk have against Christianity. In fact, when Carmel asked the Ukelele group to come and play for a church-related activity, she was held in such high esteem that they all came and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

    Even now that the current pandemic conditions have curtailed the activity of these groups, we are finding ways of keeping in contact and sharing. The Ukelele group meets once a fortnight on Zoom (that is an experience to listen to) and I still keep in contact with my birdwatchers with a Facebook page where we share our photos and observations.

    Small groups are a practical, non-threatening, inclusive way of sharing our Christianity not only with one another but with our unchurched friends as well. They are examples of invitational sharing of our spiritual experience.

    • Thanks Sir Maurice.
      3 years back before moving from the southern to the Northern part of my country Nigeria, the church divided us into smaller groups for home fellowship. Our small group survived the test of time and made us more like a family than a group. Indeed we were like-minded and had a common goal that made the group grew stronger. We had other social activities, carried out personal evangelism, and reached out to people in their community other than just meeting and praying. The group was comprised of aged, singles, couples, and children. We had both the weak and strong and moved along with every one of us. We still keep in touch and update ourselves even when not together.
      I pray to find another small group I can belong to because the old one really brought out the strength in me and made me do things I can never do on my own especially, door to door evangelism and others.

    • Hi Maurice,
      Thanks for your input and insight on small groups. This seems like a more natural way to form small groups than I have experienced in the church. We tried small groups a couple of years ago, but they were presented to the church as study groups, and most fizzled out within a short period of time. Except for our youth group. They bonded as earliteens and are all in their early to late 20's now and still do all kinds of activities together regularly, even throughout the pandemic they have stayed connected through Zoom meetings & worship. We also have some ladies that have started a Golden Years club for the seniors in our church and they have gotten together to paint, crochet, cook and go on "field trips". This has been lasting and others from outside the church have joined in. I never thought of them as a small group, but that is really what they are. Thanks for widening my perspective.

      On another note, I was wondering if you have a bird watching website? My best friends son-in-law is an avid birder, and I would love to share any information you might have with him. Thanks, Tammy

  2. Several decades ago I shared with others my concern about our Adventist involvement with abortion. Many joined our group of prolife Adventists. We prayed, used the internet, and shared our views on Facebook and many other venues. I wrote my doctoral dissertation on the subject, created several web pages, published two books on the topic, and created around 70 videos. A friend of mine produced over 250 of prolife videos. The church got wind of what we were doing and has been busy trying to reform the way we think about the right to life of the unborn. Please, pray for our ministry.

    • Bro Nic, the SDA church/organization has come to a spiritual crossroad. We are facing so many issues now. I can mention so many issues but what I know is; are we walking in the footsteps of Jesus? What would Jesus have done if faced with all of these social, spirit, and physical unrest in our world today? Many people have their own agenda, but is the agenda the same as Jesus?

      By this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.
      I am longing for the day, I.e when Jesus comes and he will settle all of the sins in our world.

  3. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want Ps 23:1

    Organize for service

    Jamesbeek the EG White reading for today is powerful. I encourage you to read it, all your answers are there. See what she says about 2-3 people from within the church who are like-minded reaching out to the unchurched. It is the Christians carrying the message of Christ to the world. The paragraph below quoted from her.

    ‘ Church members that are thus looked after and labored for become religious weaklings. If nine-tenths of the effort that has been put forth for those who know the truth had been put forth for those who have never heard the truth, how much greater would have been the advancement made! God has withheld His blessings because His people have not worked in harmony with His directions’.

    The SDA around the world have a certain formatted way of worshiping. Does anyone know when this format started? Now I am reading her writing she is saying differently.
    ‘There are times when it is fitting for our ministers to give on the Sabbath, in our churches, short discourses, full of the life and love of Christ. But the church members are not to expect a sermon every Sabbath’. She said we should not expect a sermon every Sabbat’. I honestly never knew this. I thought because the Pastors were paid to preach, we were supposed to have a sermon from the Pastor every Sabbath. WOW. Eye-opening. What more am I missing after in the church for more than 30+years?

  4. I would say that "The Human Body" is not a very good example to use for "Small Groups," simply because it is made up of quite a large number of organs etc. It is a good analogy to use for the "Spiritual Gifts" of the Holy Spirit that God uses within "The Church" and as a whole "Body" of believers etc.

  5. About 10 years ago, someone in our church started what was called Doing Life Together. Out of that, many small interest groups were started, some including community people that are not a part of our church. Sadly, the person that started it was in the process of relocating, and our pastor at that time was not interested in doing it. There are still a couple of those groups going. I started a knitting group with one of the girl's deans, that went for many years. We merged with a group that I had been with before, that was about 9 women strong, I was the only Adventist. Our group has dissolved, but I am still in touch with all of the ladies from my first group, and we are a pretty tight group. Most of us have become grandma’s and are busy with life, but when we were still together, (just the nonAdventist ladies), I had the opportunity to just be a fellow knitter, and answer many questions, and just let the Holy Spirit guide me.

    There have been prayer requests, even recently, and there have been answers to those prayers. It has been such a rich experience for me, and even though we have not knit together in over a year, we are still a close group that still loves to share life’s experiences with each other. I know God had a purpose for our group, as much for me as it was for them. It pushed me to know and understand what I believe and why. The typical phrased answers don’t cut it when someone is truly seeking to understand something we as Adventists believe in and take for granted. Needless to say, I’m all for small groups, but reaching out to “others” should be our goal, not just keeping it to ourselves.

  6. Can I ask a question, what type of small groups the author is referring to? For example- There are so many small groups operating all over the church, communities, work, gym buddies, etc. Even in our families. I have a group of friends on my WhatsApp site with several types of Christians and Muslims, I even have a small group with myself and children. I have another group on WhatsApp from my native land, this is more of helping the native people but we chat and have social virtually. In each group we chat, sent condolences, encouragement, laughter, etc. But is that the small groups EG White reading is speaking and focused on? To my understanding No? Don’t know what others think.

    Let us continue to work for the unchurched and for those who don’t have the knowledge like us.

  7. Ecl.1:9 - "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun." God does not change - it is us who are led to gradually find Jesus' ways should we believe and trust in the Author of the 'Way of Truth and Life'.
    We do not consult the Scripture when we look to form a social club, but, if the idea is inspired, it certainly helps to know how we conduct ourselves as *Christians* when arranging its activities.

    'Organized for Service' - What is the purpose, advantage for forming small groups in the setting of an established, larger group of believers: It is to nurture more effectively those who came to join the family of Faith and those who are still seeking!
    If this is the purpose at the heart of our efforts, we can go to the Scripture to find guidance for all we do. To live and experience the love of our Heavenly Father in all its various settings is a blessing to all who participate.

    Ellen White's words regarding the reason for forming small groups point out: "... to work not only for the church members, but for unbelievers." The *effectiveness* of small groups can be easier assured than that of a larger group. The small group setting is more advantageous for sharing personally experienced spiritual Truth with participants, helping to foster learning in all parts of the Soul.

    Jesus taught all He met - some of them joined Him and some He called directly. In the end, it was He who selected those He wanted to carry the message of His mission to the end of the earth.
    And so it is with us today. Wherever we may be in our life when we meet Jesus, it is from that point forward that we walk together with Him; the Holy Spirit directs, we learn to follow wherever this may lead us.
    God's Holy Spirit of Truth and Love will undergird all our efforts if our efforts are truly, genuinely rooted in our love for the Father. We will be sensitive to the guidance of His Spirit, because - "Whatever we do, we should do to the Glory of God!" 1Cor.10:31


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