- Genesis 1:26-28 God is a being who exists eternally in community. People are made in God’s image
- Genesis 2:18 Lack of community is not good for us. Procreation provides opportunity for community beyond husband and wife.
- Genesis 46:8-24 The nation Israel was organized by tribes and by clan, providing community
- Psalms 133 Unity is good and pleasant. God bestows his blessings where it exists.
- Matthew 22:37-40 We are to be in relationship first with God and then with other people.
- Mark 3:13-19 Jesus appointed the Twelve for fellowship (that they might be with Him) and for commission (that He might send them out)
- John 13:34-35 People will know that we are Christ’s disciples by the love that we demonstrate to one another.
- Acts 2:41-47 The early church met in the Temple courts (large group) and in homes (small groups).
- Acts 4:32-35 People in the early church were one in heart and mind, sharing all things in common.
- Galatians 6:2 We are to carry each other’s burdens, so fulfilling the law of Christ.
- Ephesians 4:1-32 The body of Christ demonstrates unity in diversity.
- Philippians 2:1-4 We are to be one in the spirit and purpose, and put the interests of others ahead of our own.
- 1 Peter 4:8-10 We are to serve one another using our spiritual gifts.
- Hebrews 10:24-25 We are to spur one another on to love and good deeds, meet together, and encourage one another.
It seems that Christians universally agree that the Bible commands fellowship. As members of the Body of Christ we have been given great responsibility for one another. Some of the biblical commands are:
· "Love one another" John 13:34
· "Live in harmony with one another" Romans 12:16
· "Comfort one another" 2 Corinthians 13:11
· "Serve one another" Galatians 5:13
· "Bear one another's burdens" Galatians 6:2
· "Teaching and admonishing one another" Colossians 3:16
· "Encourage one another" 1 Thessalonians 4:18
· "Build one another up" 1 Thessalonians 5:11
· "Exhort one another" Hebrews 3:13
· "Stir up one another to love and good works" Hebrews 10:24
· "Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another" James 5:16
These are not just guidelines to live by when believers gather together. These are commands that we must be proactive in obeying. All of these commands are given with the assumption that we will be spending time together. In fact, we cannot obey these commands unless we are regularly gathering together (Hebrews 10:25).
I believe the benefit of the Bible Fellowship, Bible Discipleship Hour, the Children’s Bible Study, etc is for the purposes as stated above. In a small group, believers have an opportunity for fellowship, shepherding, and ministering to one another in a personal way.
I believe it’s more then just sitting in a class and hearing another sermon. It’s a great time for shepherding one another in the Christian life.
It’s a time that should exist to encourage spiritual growth through a nurturing context which includes a number of things. For example, love, learning, leadership and using of spiritual gifts.
Spiritual growth does not take place in a vacuum, rather, it is fostered and encouraged by the interaction found in a loving relationship.
Spiritual growth is more of a "team sport" than an "individual sport." God made us to flourish in a fellowship setting. For each of us to reach our maximum spiritual potential we need the help of other people.
For the serious believer, being involved in a Bible Discipleship Fellowship time, is not an option. No one in his/her mind would embark on a mountain climb alone, likewise no one should embark on the journey of the Christian walk alone.
So these churches keep doing what they've always done. And for the most part the people in them do not have deep, spiritual, transparent and authentic relationships with anyone.
Drafted by Charles E. Whisnant 12 01 06 Proof Checked by Charity Whisnant
The numerous classes are designed for the growth and edification of the believer, thereby strengthening the Church through education. Dealing with topics from how to manage a budget to how to defend Christianity to other belief systems. Classes will aid you in your daily walk with Christ.
Does Scripture Teach A Church Should Provided Bible Study Sunday Classes for Children and Adults?
- They are NOT to PRIMARILY be a stopgap for the loss of members and attenders!Pastors and church leadership are continually looking for ways to keep people from leaving their church - it's called "closing the back door". Assimilation is a key concept in church growth seminars. Church growth experts tell us that there are three primary factors that ensure a newcomer will stay in a church. These factors are friendships, a ministry, and a small group. "Remember, new people need to sense that they are needed and the best place for this to happen is small groups." Unfortunately the Bible doesn't talk about assimilation. It assumes that the regenerate will be baptized and joined to the local church. In fact, a "convert" that didn't join a local church or get actively involved was unheard of in the New Testament. The emphasis on assimilation and "keeping" people is misplaced. The Bible never commands us to do anything to "keep" people! We are so worried about attendance and getting people to return to a service that we forget the responsibility we have to minister to them. And sometimes being ministered to isn't fun or pleasant. So using small groups as member retention or member assimilation is unbiblical. It might be a nice side benefit, but I reject it as a model and I hope you would as well. Don Fields from "The World From My Window."
Extra stuff proof read by my lovely wife, Charity Whisnant, 12 02 06
The issue is doing what is biblical, rather than trying to get people into church, or trying to get people to stay in church. We go about doing church as directed by the Word, and allow the working out of those principles in the life of the church body.
- But as I have seen over and over, leadership will spend more time, walking on a tight rope, trying not to offend some old deacon, or member. "Charles, you might create havoc if you go about change like you are talking about." What else is that but caving in to the old deacon or member. They are not interested in doing God’s Work in God’s Way, they are concerned about not offending the music people and the big givers in the church.
- "Well, we are not interested in getting a crowd in church." "We want to do ministry that is biblical." Okay! I don’t disagree with those statements. Okay, do the Lord’s Work in the Lord’s Way. At the same time, it is not wrong biblically to desire to see people come to Christ and see new people come to Worship and Bible Study.
- I have never seen such poor quality leadership in some churches. They certainly try, but they would rather die a slow death than do it right. I really don’t believe leadership tries to fail, they try different ideas all the time. Maybe I just think they need someone who knows how to accomplish their own objectives.