God is loving and relational. In fact, the Trinity is a perfectly loving community. And God made us, in His image, for relationship with Him and with one another.
Sin breaks our fellowship with God and wreaks havoc on our relationships, but through the Gospel, we are reconciled to God and one another (see Ephesians 2:1-22). We have fellowship with God and fellowship with His blood-bought family (1 John 1:3, 7), communion with God and community with His people.
“Community” is one of our three core values (along with Gospel and Mission). The primary way we cultivate grace-filled community at Bethel is through Community Groups (CG’s). So, what are these groups all about? What are they FOR?
Relationships – That we might love one another well
- CG’s are the primary way we fold people into the family of Bethel. They are the primary context to know and be known and are also intended to keep people from “falling through the cracks.”
- Your CG is your family within the Bethel Family. You ought to be loving and friendly toward everyone at Bethel, but you can’t be everything for everyone. The small group context is not intended to create cliques or relational silos, but is intended to create relational depth, trust, safety, transparency, accountability, and sacrificial care.
- The goal is not only to have group meetings (as important as they are), but to “do life together.” We are fellow disciples of Jesus, living life together, helping each other faithfully follow our Master. Follow up with one another in the week, involve each other in normal life, and pray for each other.
Growth in grace – That we might disciple one another
- The CG should be like a greenhouse for growth
- Focus on application of the Word to daily life
- Confess your sins one to another – James 5:16
- Encourage one another to stay close to Jesus – Hebrews 3:12-14
- Correct and restore one another and hold accountable – Galatians 6:1; Matthew 18:15
- Stir each other up to love and good deeds – Hebrews 10:24-25
Ministry – That we might serve one another
- Prayer for one another, and others, is ministry!
- Bear one another’s burdens – Galatians 6:2
- Meet practical needs (provide meals, rides, visits in hospital, help with childcare, etc.)
Outreach – That we might be on mission together
- Prayer for one another, that we might be salt and light in daily life
- Serving together at Mary Campbell Center
- Creative outreach projects (foster care Christmas, block parties in the neighborhood, Christianity Explored courses, etc.)
The health and strength of our CG’s is not only the responsibility of the elders and CG leaders. It’s every member’s responsibility (see Ephesians 4:15-16, 29; 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 12-26). Let’s all embrace our role in cultivating and protecting strong and healthy biblical community through our groups, for the good of every person and the glory of our loving, relational God!