Community is essential for growth in the Christian's life. As important and vital as teaching is, Christians must also learn to "do life" together, which is pretty much impossible to do if all we do is show up for teaching sessions on Sunday, and then return back to 'our' life for the other six days. Biblical Christianity will have none of our North American individualism, which, unfortunately, has crept into many of our churches.
Every other week, our Grace Groups gather together at one of the member's houses or at the church building. We have a time of worship through fellowship, a time of interactive teaching/discussion, and closed with a time of group prayer.
Grace Community has several Grace Groups (community groups) that take place at various times throughout the week.
Why We Switched from our Evening Service on Sunday to do Grace Groups:
Calvinistic Baptist churches are notoriously known for placing a great emphasis on the importance of teaching & doctrine; that is, they have a huge “head knowledge”. Unfortunately, many of these same churches are also notoriously known for their lack of “heart application.”
The Bible makes it very clear that although true life transformation requires Biblical information, the two are not to be equated as synonymous. That is, there may be a Christian who has a lot of knowledge about the Bible, but lives a life that is contrary to what they know to be right. It is not an either-or option, but rather a both-and; the application flows out of the theology!
In God's good providence, preaching through a series on Acts 2:42-47 awoke Grace Community to the reality that our sovereign Lord has called & saved us as to be His city on a hill: to live in such a way that others see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in Heaven (Matthew 5:16). As Jesus told His disciples before He was crucified, that all people would know that we belong to Him, by our love for one another (John 13:35). And so we began to realize that the Bible said that Christians who do life together is one of the greatest witnesses we have to the power of the gospel of Christ (see Ephesians 2:14-16; 4:16). Being “missional” is impossible without community. True evangelism incorporates the entirety of Christ's body.
Also, we felt like large sections of Scripture such as these were just not realistically doable by having more and more services in which there was only a lot of Biblical teaching (e.g. Hebrews 10:24-25; James 5:13-16). So often, Christians are content to just show up at church once in a while, and then leave before they really get to know anyone. By implementing CGs, we are hoping that newcomers will be better integrated into this local body, to put into use the spiritual gifts that Christ has purchased for His people & mediated through the Holy Spirit (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4; 1 Peter 4).
Finally, we felt that by employing CGs, we would be better able to train up the next generation of leaders, as CGs encourage the spreading out of the work of ministry to all the parts of Christ's body (Eph. 4:11-16). For example, each CG has a leader, as well as a protege, who is being trained with the goal of himself leading his own CG in the future. We believe that we will begin to see the parts functioning & flourishing as many more of the unseen needs of the church surface through an intimate & trusting fellowship of mutual interaction.
This is the leadership's great desire: that through our life together, outsiders too might recognize the grace of Christ that He has bestowed upon His church, and that they too might be incorporated into His body (the church) through faith in His finished work on their behalf.
The non-negotiable components that characterize our CGs are derived from how the early church did life together in Acts 2:42-47, namely:
-Devoted to the apostles' teaching/doctrine
-Devoted to true gospel fellowship together
-Devoted to breaking bread together (i.e. eating together)
-Devoted to praying with and for one another
-Sharing our resources with one another (whether time, talents, money, etc.)
-Gathering in each others' homes
-Inviting non-Christians to our CGs to experience Spirit-empowered fellowship
As mentioned, our desire is that the Lord would continue to add people to His church (2:47), which He Himself promised to build (Matthew 16:16).
If you would like more information about our Community Groups, please send us an email. We would love to answer any questions you might have.
Soli Deo Gloria!