by Rev. Daniel Strandlund | September 15, 2017
Hi friends, I hope you’ve heard that our Life Groups are starting back up this month. I’ll put the most important stuff up front: if you’re at all curious as to what Life Groups are and how you can join one, Susan Guerra would love to hear from you! You can reach Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org If you were a part of one last year, we hope you’ll do so again this year. If you weren’t a part of one last year, we hope you’ll consider joining.
I’d like to extend a special invitation to folks who have young and school-aged children. On Sunday, September 24th we’re starting a Life Group geared specifically towards parents. That one will meet in the Mission Hall from 9am until around 10am. Nursery will be provided for infants and toddlers starting at 8:45am, and Godly Play will be available for older children at 9am. (Godly Play is open to all children beginning old enough to go to the restroom by themselves through junior high. Contact Ruth Ann Bloor or Kimra Hamilton with Godly Play questions, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.) You heard right: an hour of free childcare on Sunday morning!
In Paul’s letters in the New Testament, we get a few glimpses of what we might call the “Life Groups” of the early church: small communities that usually gathered in people’s homes in order to learn, support, pray and enjoy each other’s fellowship. For example, in his letter to Philemon, Paul writes “To Philemon our dear friend and brother…and to the church in your house” (v.1-2). Like our Life Groups, these early church communities frequently had meals together and enjoyed each other’s company—though if you read 1 Corinthians carefully, some members of the early church apparently got a little too focused on this part! (See 1 Cor. 11:17-22, for example.)
These early church communities often studied texts together, just like our own Life Groups. For example, in chapter 16 of Paul’s letter to the Romans, Paul saying, “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church…so that you may welcome her in the Lord” (v.1-2). The Deacon Phoebe is the messenger who physically brought Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome, and she’s probably the one who read the letter aloud for them so that they could study, discuss, and discern the Spirit’s work for them through its content. Paul commends Phoebe to the Roman Life Group so she can have a place to stay!
The Life Groups of the early church also frequently had a missional focus. Not only did they show hospitality to traveling ministers like Phoebe—or to hurricane evacuees—but they also aided folks in need outside their own circles. The Philippians, for example, sent one of their number to provide for Paul while he was in prison since ancient prisoners were reliant on folks outside for their material needs (1:7, 4:17-18). Likewise, hopefully your life group will always be on the lookout for an opportunity to care for others.
I hope you’ll consider participating. As we read this past Sunday, whenever two or three are gathered together in the name of Jesus, he is in the midst of them.
God’s peace, friends.