In a letter to Christians facing persecution, the author of Hebrews writes, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24–25 (ESV)
I’m sure that most of us agree that meeting together in community, grounded in the gospel, is a vital component of our spiritual health. But it’s so easy to seek biblical community for the wrong reasons or to not even seek it at all. Though we may attend the weekend gatherings or have friends who are believers, if we don’t have intentional time with other Christians to read God’s word and pray together, we are missing one of the most important elements of our design in our need for authentic community.
At Mercy Hill we believe that discipleship happens in community. Therefore, we do everything we can to connect people to life-giving Community Groups. If you’ve never been a part of a Community Group or are interested in seeing what they’re all about, we’d encourage you to join a Starter Group this November. Starter Groups are a short-term (4 weeks) group simulation that happen at the campus that you attend for worship.
It’s possible that our misunderstanding of what true biblical community is supposed to be has influenced the reasons why we might consider joining a group. Starter Groups give you a chance to move past these so that you can see what authentic Christian community is all about. Here are at least three reasons not to join Starter Groups:
1. To Be Comfortable
Community Groups at Mercy Hill are made up of people who meet weekly to serve, read, pray, fast, weep, and rejoice with one-another. It is real life stuff, and we all know that life can be very hard. If we think that joining a group of believers in Jesus Christ on a regular basis means that we’ll get to take it easy and not be encouraged to grow, we clearly don’t understand how the Bible describes community! Starter Groups are a great way to learn more about Community Groups and test one out before making the commitment to join one.
2. To Be Served
Though part of living in Christian community is giving others the opportunity to serve us, if our primary reason for joining a Starter Group is to sit back and let others do the work of the mission while we observe, then we are joining for the wrong reason. The author of Hebrews uses action words like “stir up” and “encourage,” showing that every believer should be taking an active role in serving and supporting the others in their community.
3. To Be Made Right with God
We are naturally drawn toward action-based solutions in life. If something is not right, we want to know what we can do to fix it. On the other hand, the Bible shows us that it is not about what we can do for God to make things right, but instead what Jesus has already done for us. We may be tempted to think that because God calls us to live in community with each other that we should do so to appease him. This line of thinking misconstrues the joining of a group with being made right before God. There is nothing that you can do or not do to make God love you more than he already does, and joining Starter Groups can offer soul-refreshing friendship with other believers who give us encouragement to walk in that reality in everyday life.
Sign Up Today!
Our next round of Starter Groups will take place on Wednesday nights from 7:00pm – 8:30pm November 7, 14, 28, and December 5 at all three Mercy Hill campuses. Come enjoy light refreshments while getting to know your Campus Pastor and others who are connecting into Christ-centered community. We will study the word, discuss how the text applies to our lives, and pray together. We won’t be offering childcare on site, but we will gladly reimburse you for the cost of child care during your time at Starter Groups.
Starter Groups are also a great way to transition into an on-going Community Group, and with that in mind, participants in Starter Groups will be able to pre-register for the new Community Groups that will be launching during the next Grouplink (Jan 2019) before those groups are open to the church at large.
Click here to sign up today!
-Nick Gercken (Ministry Resident)