In a sermon from August 17, 2014, our very own David Cunningham said, "Surviving and thriving in the Christian faith depends on intentional relationship with one another." Relationship that isn't easy, I would add. David was using Hebrews 10 to explain God's desire for Christians to live in community with one another. Indeed, community emerges as a critical tool throughout Hebrews that the Lord uses to help persecuted believers to understand the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ. The communities the Hebrew Christians were in helped foster proper understanding of Scripture, Christ's sovereignty, God's providence, and their identity. I think if I were a first-century Jewish Christian facing persecution, I'd need a strong community around myself, too. I'd depend on them!
So, when I was asked in Fall 2013 to join a women's discipleship group at Christ Community, I wanted to in theory. I had a lot of fears and hesitations, though. I'd had good and bad previous experiences in D-groups. I'd even had good and bad experiences leading D-groups. I feared getting hurt, giving too much of myself, or wasting time in a group that wouldn't really support my growth or needs. I was struggling with fear, doubt and pride.
Yet, I knew I needed a closer, more intimate Christian community of women around me. I was in a desperately lonely season of life as a stay-at-home mom with few in-town friends. I had time to attend weekly meetings, so I said yes and joined a larger-than-normal group of 6 women. The group was fun, fantastic, deep, and meaningful, and at times it was hard, difficult, messy and disheartening. I think we all came to the group with different expectations of what discipleship would look like. At times, we all had differnet levels of committment and perseverance with finishing group assignments or scripture memory. We were a perfectly imperfect group, but we had an Incredible Savior to experience.
I've been collecting "data" or "feedback" from women's discipleship group leaders and members for years now. Some groups have an easy time of connecting, being intentional and seeing growth. Other groups struggle to maintain committments to meet weekly and be intentional. Some leaders thrive in their roles; others struggle. There are numerous factors that influence the health of our groups. Yet, just as in Hebrews 10, being in community and caring for one another is just as important now as it was then. For myself, I am more consistent with daily Bible reading and prayer when I'm part of a group. I become overjoyed when I get to hear about and experience answers to prayer in other women's lives. Certainly, I could experience these things outside of a structured group, but I know myself, and I'm not likely to be that intentional when just hanging out getting coffee with a friend.
Christ Community has a number of men's and women's discipleship groups that are continuing or beginning this Fall. We also have community groups that are continuing or beginning this fall. These groups provide a structured, regular connection to other believers so that we can all survive and thrive in the Christian faith. Please consider joining one of these groups. For info on community groups, contact David. For info on men's discipleship opportunities, contact Phil. If you're a lady considering joining or leading a discipleship group, contact me. If you're still not convinced, check out some of the resources below.
"Renewing our Purpose: Part II," by David Cunningham from Summer of Love sermon series. Christ Community Church. 17 Aug 2014.
"5 Common Small Group Myths (And the Truth to Help Transform your Group)" by Steven Lee. The Gospel Coalition website. 7 Nov 2014.
"Three Benefits of Discipleship" by Trillia Newbell. Desiring God. 13 Feb 2014.
P.S. (Can I do that in a blog?): I feel like expectations and previous history in discipleship/community groups has such an impact on our readiness or fear of (re)joining groups. If you're struggling with anxiety, uncertainty, or apprehension about being in a discipleship or community group, please contact David, Phil, or myself. I guarantee you that you're not alone in your fears. David, Phil and/or I have probably heard or felt the same fears before. Collectively, we're about 979 years old (yeah, David is WAY older than he looks). We want to listen and creatively think through how to help you experience the Christian community of Hebrews 10. We love you, brother/sister!