Home » Wednesday: New Testament Small Groups    


Wednesday: New Testament Small Groups — 8 Comments

  1. When I was involved in computer programming one of the key ideas that was being developed was Object Oriented Programming. The essential idea was that large programs should be designed as a set of small modules, each of which a small group of programmers could work on independently without having to consult with what others were doing. The success of this system relied on designing good interfaces between the modules, so that providing the programmers wrote their program to fit the interface specification the modules would work together.

    Small groups are somewhat analagous (like all illustrations it does not fit perfectly). Our common interface is the Gospel. It provides the "interface specification" between both us and one another.

    The early church is cited as an example of the church functioning as small groups. A study of church history shows that the idea of meeting in large churches did not really develop until the fourth century. So, for over three centuries most church activity took place in small somewhat independent groups. Of course, it wasn't all plain sailing for the early church. Some of the small groups developed heretical ideas, while others were racist in their outlook. And unlike today, communication was slow. It could take 12 months to get an answer to a letter, and even then the delivery wasn't guaranteed. Even when the Church Council at Jerusalem sent out their answer to a problem it was often stated in quite simple terms.

    It is interesting to read our own church history when our church consisted primarily of small groups. When the church here in Australia was in its infancy, The leaders of the small Australian conference would come up against a problem of organisation and would write to the Church headquarters in the USA for some advice. In the meantime they would work out a "temporary" solution for themselves, so by the time the General Conference advice arrived, the temporary solution had become permanent.

    Small groups create an issue for church organisation in today's world because small groups show some independence. Maybe the answer is to work more on the interactions (Interface) of these groups rather than dictating what they must do.

    • Maurice - always interesting to read your life's experiences providing illustrations expressed as spiritually received insights.
      I understand the 'interface' you are referring to in your illustration to be the active principle of the allways present, all-permiating Spirit of Truth and Light; it knitts perfectly together all aspects of the Gospel Message. It does not matter in what setting the message is applied; mysteriously, it will always produce spiritual 'growth' - possitive as well as negative.

      Jesus' Gospel and Inspiration by the Holy Spirit are one - 'object oriented programming'. The Gospel message is conceived, established by the Spirit of Truth, presented by the Saviour indwelled by the Spirit of Truth, given to the hearer/observer finding resonance in the heart looking for His Truth, and from there being passed on as Truth.
      This is the ongoing process of Salvation of Mankind - the Goal (object) of this process!

      The Gospel is the only, true, spiritual-life-giving power! He cannot be sectioned off into 'parts' - it always works as a whole - it acts like leven - it is a process; its application is in everything that exists and lives!
      The micro- and macrocosm is governed by it. It's influence can be minisculy, still 'unseen' by man's ability to observe, but it containes the same creative power as all heavenly ordained events affecting mankind - God's Love; man's response is Faith.

      My biggest concern is that we are still not fully appreciating the all-encompassing, ever-present influence of God's Holy Spirit of Truth in the whole of our life's actvities. My hope is that a small group is a nucleus of the Spirit's power of Love, uniquely reaching hearts and on outward to touch a neigbor's heart!

  2. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speaks: and he will shew you things to come. John 16:13.

    That verse was an eye-opener for me.
    Bridgett, if we are not being guided by the Holy Spirit our hearts can’t be touched by him.
    Maurice, I think meeting in homes will still be great. It sounds like homes were rotated in those days, but in these days many are so concerned about others visiting them. If one/group does not have the Holy Spirit to guide them, their excuses will be numerous. Different cultures denote strategies to take the message forward.

    In answer to the question for today, I mentioned before about inviting others at my home before and the outcome. I presently live in a highly secular country. You only go to others by invitation. I tried before to form a study group but people not interested. Moreover, people separate themselves according to age group or if you want to chat about everything else except the mission of soul winning. People said Sunday is their personal time for families and self. Monday- Friday is work, that’s why many don’t attend night meetings. Then Saturday is for church.

    Many SDAs see Saturday is for church and all the other programs by sitting in church for a long period of time. Instead, Saturday is the Sabbath. As we imitate Jesus and what he did on the Sabbath we will find ourselves in small groups working for our master. The Bible says, after lunch, he went out to be about his father's business.
    Many eat lunch as it is a part of worship then they go home to ‘catch up’ on sleep.
    Despite being from different cultures and ages, the Holy Spirit bonded their hearts together. Oh, how I long for the Holy Spirit to bond our hearts togetherness despite race, creed, age, ethnicity, etc.

    • Dear Lyn - I can feel your heart's pleading for unity among the believers! Yes, being one in the Spirit of Truth and Love, this is where our Father dwells. Seldom do we experience the true joy of Christian fellowship untainted by the world's cares.

      My greatest joy comes when I worship God through Song and Praise; this is where I feel the greatest unity of the body of believers. During these times of heart-felt, emotional engagement through worship, we release our anxieties and leave them at the altar of His Love - tears of joy and gratitude flow unashamedly; the Holy Spirit sending our praises straight to the Throne of God.
      In my opinion, much too little time is 'allotted' for our personal fellowship with our Father and His Spirit during organized Sabbath worship time. Saddly and too often, time spend on the organizational 'news' is given more focus than the time of communal Worship of our Father, His Son and Holy Spirit in Song and Praise.

      Like you, I find myself at times singing praises and affirmations, using my own words and melody as the heart brings them forth at times of need for closeness with the Father.
      I pray that you stay strong in your Faith and Love of our heavenly Father, praying that you will take advantage of every way He shows to share His Light and Love!

  3. As I read through this weeks lesson, I realize how different society is today. It seems that there aren’t many who want to commit to any sort of ongoing ANYTHING. Our local church has not had a midweek service for years, I actually don’t remember the last time it happened. There has been attempts at getting something started, but there is just no interest. I feel very fortunate to belong to a Sabbath School class, that has really been actively committed and looking for ways to reach outside of our class to be of service.

    • I feel you, Karen. Part of me wonders if it's because every time someone tries something new, certain people always seem to want to swoop in and take it over.

      When they do, they make sure everything's always done the exact same way it was done in the past. They don't want to take any initiative, but they don't to try anything different either. (And never mind that what was done in the past wasn't effective even then.)

      Eventually people figure it out and quit trying. Nobody wants to waste time beating their heads against a wall.

      I guess what I'm saying is, if nobody's interested in a midweek service, it's because they weren't getting anything from it in the past. What kind of midweek service *would* they get something from, and would your leaders actually be willing to offer such a service?

      Is it a prayer meeting, a Bible study, a sermon, a community service group? Start asking the other members what they really want, and see what you can learn. And good luck with it.

  4. Be ye Holy as I am Holy.

    Yes Bridgett, I am passionate to finish this work and for Christ to come. But this work can’t be finished without the Holy Spirit. We, Christians are preventing the work from going forward. Look around and do you see what I am seeing? So much separation in the church along all different lines. What will Jesus says??

    • Lyn - yes, indeed - the work of Love can only be done by the Holy Spirit as we learn to understand Him better. For many month now, my comments are about having a better understanding of the Holy Spirit and how He works in our lives.
      I believe that all the separation and disunity in the body of Christ is due to a lack of knowledge and understanding about how the transformational work is done by the Holy Spirit. We first need to love God with all our Heart, Mind and Soul and our neighbors as we want to be loved.
      The effectiveness of God's Love expressed through the believer's conduct/attitude toward each other as well as toward our 'neighbors' stands as the direct testimony to our love-relationship with our Father.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags allowed in your comment: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>