Who We Are As Growing Christians (cont'd)
We BELONG to Each Other
People are so busy these days, and most people I know live far from close family. Our world is fragmented and disconnected. At SBPC we are animated by a vision of the Kingdom of God which draws isolated individuals into a body of believers who grow into Christ's fullness together. The Bible warns us "Don't neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but inspire one another to greater love and good works" (Hebrews 10:24). Rick Warren says it well: "You are called to belong, not just to believe. The Bible knows nothing of solitary saints or spiritual hermits isolated from other believers. While your relationship to Christ is personal, God never intends it be private" (Purpose Driven Life, pg. 130).
You've probably noticed that we really value connection here at SBPC. There are so many times and places and opportunities for you to connect, for you to be blessed by and be a blessing to your sisters and brothers in Christ. Someone has wisely said that it's not about "going to" church, but it's all about "being" the church. With all my heart, I pray that you will feel God's gentle but unrelenting call to connect, to move beyond simply attending a worship service. He also wants you to grow in a local community of faith. When we try to be solo Christians, we often end up so low (I experienced this personally).
We GROW in Small Groups
From my college days (and that was quite a few years ago), I have grown with others in small groups. I've been in men's groups and in groups with my wife, Judy. My small group has come through for me more times than I can remember. I am a far better husband, father, pastor and human being because of the encouragements, prayers, and counsel that I've received from my small groups. And I'm not the only one. Recently, I was talking to a friend here who gushed about his small group. That week he had taken a crushing burden to his group. A phone conversation with his elderly father back East about a family problem ended in a barrage of expletives. My friend's small group listened, encouraged, counseled, and prayed. The next morning his father called him to apologize, something he had never done before! I do think God takes community seriously, and He shows up when we do!
Since my high school days, long before I even dreamed of being a pastor, I have read my Bible almost every day. God's Word has literally saved me. In my 20's, during one of my daily quiet times, God spoke to me in Jeremiah 29:11 and brought me to deep peace about who I was and who I wasn't. This verse became my life-jacket and stopped me from pulling the plug on my life. At SBPC, we believe that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in right living" (2 Timothy 3:16).
Though I gain a lot in my daily walk in the Word, I have to tell you that the Bible is most alive for me when I dig into it with others. When my small group takes the sermon text from the previous Sunday and we relate to it from the different vantage points that each one brings, that's when the lights turn on and I see the Bible and I see my life in new and deeper ways. Here's something to know about SBPC. For decades we've fostered small groups. But in the last several years, we've turned a corner from being a church WITH small groups to being a church OF small groups. I know small group participation may require a real sacrifice. But I can tell you from many years of personal experience, it will be well worth the cost!