I was recently reminded that there are more than fifty verses in the New Testament that include the phrase “one another” or “each other.” Here are a few: love each other, pray for each other, bear one another’s burdens, accept one another, be devoted to each other, forgive each other, serve each other, submit to each other, greet each other, encourage and build up one another, be devoted to each other.
This list is only a partial sampling of God’s desires for how the church should be relationally connected. I believe these ancient words in the Scriptures are still applicable and relevant today. Certainly, one of the best contexts for us to demonstrate and develop these characteristics is in small groups. Our Christian life includes both a commitment to Christ and a commitment to other Christians. Put another way, the Biblical concept of fellowship is being as committed to each other as we are to Jesus Christ and small groups gathering regularly is a great way to grow in our faith.
In my personal experience, I have been deeply and profoundly enriched by participating in various small groups over the years. In high school, our Young Life leader met with a group of guys every week before school started for a time of Bible study, prayer, and sharing life. When I was in college, three other guys and I met together weekly, and each of us led another group. Shortly after Nina and I got married, we joined a large Episcopal church in Northern Virginia that had a number of neighborhood-based home groups. We met weekly with an inter-generational group; our group had parents of young children (like us at the time), parents of teenagers, single, divorced, and empty-nesters. We had people brand new to the faith as well as those mature in faith. We walked with each other in celebrating wonderful blessings and cried with each other over difficulties and tragedies in life. This group was also the context where I began to articulate a sense of God calling me to pursue ordination in the Episcopal church. To receive the affirmation and support of that group was a profound encouragement as we accepted the calling and embarked on that adventure.
In my experience as a pastor in several churches over my 28 years of ordained ministry, I have seen how critically important small groups are to individuals, to couples, to families and to the overall health of every local church. That is certainly true at Good Sam as well. I am delighted to know that we already have more than 20 groups that meet regularly all over the area on almost every day of the week. Some are close to maximum size and others could use a few more participants. I am also aware that there are many of us that are not currently in a small group. As we seek to be a more relationally connected church, I would be delighted to see several new groups started so that more people can experience the joy and blessing of deep and profound fellowship. I would love to see more groups started all over the area: Phoenixville, Media, Downingtown, West Chester, and Ardmore come to mind. How about a group that meets downtown for those working there? There are multiple possibilities; perhaps God is nudging you to participate in an existing group. Or, maybe God is calling you to host and/or facilitate a new group. Please contact me or Jeanne Lomanno in the church office to get the ball rolling.