Friday, July 8, 2011

The sermon vs. small group

From the city to the small town churches are learning the importance of small groups in the life of a church. They are not just learning but seeking to live the truth. Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN is one of those churches. Bethlehem is led by John Piper. The church as been transitioning it's structure for small group ministry. In a sermon on John 5, Piper shows the importance of small group for a healthy body life. He explains why preaching is not enough. Now this is from the guy who wrote "Preaching to the Supremacy of Christ," and is know for his preaching ministry. So preaching why preaching is not enough as a way to shoe the importance of a small groups is a good minor correct for people who honor the preached word. Here is an outline from Piper’s manuscript(full sermon here):
Last Sunday when I met with the small group leaders of the Downtown Campus, I tried to show them how essential their role is at this church by giving them seven reasons my preaching is not enough—seven reasons why perseverance in faith and growth in faith call for Christians to meet regularly in a face-to-face way to “serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10). God intends to do things in you which he will only do through the ministry of other believers.

7 Reasons We Need Small Groups
He has given pastors to the church “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12). I believe in what I do. And I believe that it is not enough. Here are the seven reasons I gave the small group leaders.

1. The impulse [to] avoid painful growth by disappearing safely into the crowd in corporate worship is very strong.
2. The tendency toward passivity in listening to a sermon is part of our human weakness.
3. Listeners in a big group can more easily evade redemptive crises. If tears well up in your eyes in a small group, wise friends will gently find out why. But in a large gathering, you can just walk away from it.
4. Listeners in a large group tend to neglect efforts of personal application. The sermon may touch a nerve of conviction, but without someone to press in, it can easily be avoided.
5. Opportunity for questions leading to growth is missing. Sermons are not dialogue. Nor should they be. But asking questions is a key to understanding and growth. Small groups are great occasions for this.
6. Accountability for follow-through on good resolves is missing. But if someone knows what you intended to do, the resolve is stronger.
7. Prayer support for a specific need or conviction or resolve goes wanting. O how many blessings we do not have because we are not surrounded by a band of friends who pray for us.

Piper is taking Bethlehem is going through a restructuring which is more about the church being the church and not about some public relations face lifts or trying to following some trendy cultural wind. We are called to more than a smile of sunday, a prayer on Wednesday, and listening to a sermon on Sunday. We are called to do life together. Small-group ministry is not an optional add-on to basic Christian living. It is the context of Christian living. I think it is normal and healthy New Testament Christianity.

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1 comment:

  1. Hey buddy...can you post a link to this? I'm assuming its from'm preaching from Acts 2:42-47 at the end of the month and would like to use this stuff as I'll be teaching on homegroups.