Monthly Archives: December 2013

Being

Worship is a word that gets thrown around a lot. Different people will have different responses to the question, “what is worship?” Sometimes, the answer is, it’s what we do at church on Sunday morning (or Saturday evening, in the case of FCC). Ultimately, worship is whatever we do that honors and brings glory to God – including corporate worship on the weekend (i.e., “church”).

But what is “church?” Is church a place of worship? A place of refuge? A place where we can come together as a community of believers? A place where we go to learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ and the power it has to change lives? A place to turn to when we’re in need of help and support? A place where we can lay our sins down and seek forgiveness for our sins? A place where we’re accepted regardless of who we are or where we come from?

Yes. All of the above would be true. Coincidentally, the exact same is (or should be) true of small groups.

Craig Van Gelder writes that, “we tend to limit church to what we do together on Sunday morning and diminish the idea that church is primarily about living together in a distinct way in the world.”

What Van Gelder is saying is that, church isn’t just on Saturday evening/Sunday morning. The church is not a building, nor is it an activity we partake on the weekend. We are the church.

Yes, the church is all the things mentioned above, with the outcome on our lives (hopefully) being each of us living “in a distinct way in the world.” That distinct way sets us apart from the world.

Small group ministry is one way that we do that, becoming an extension of what we do in the weekend worship service – though on a smaller and in some ways more personal level. It’s a place we come together as a (small) community of believers, to learn and better understand, to share, support, laugh, and cry together, as people sharing Christ’s love for us with each other – sitting in a circle, as opposed to shoulder-to-shoulder. It’s a place and a way for us to extend our growth in ways that help our brothers and sisters in Christ come together in the form of a small group community. It’s a place and a way for us to “live together” in a way that others will see as distinct – and want to experience that same distinction in their lives as well.

Small groups are yet another expression of being the church.

I pray blessings on each of you – for clarity as leaders, a sense of mission, love for each other, and growth in Christ in the coming year as we each seek daily to become more fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

In His name….

Tim Revis

Group Life Deacon

trevis@firstdecatur.org

217.725.9089 (call anytime)

 

Christmas – the mixed bag

Christmas is unlike any other holiday, for many reasons (other than the obvious – celebration of the birth of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ). Christmas (including the entire Christmas season, but especially the day) brings with it a Santa bag full of emotions for many of us.

The celebration of the birth of the Christ Child is a joyous occasion that’s unparalleled. The anticipation of and finally the actual opening of gifts is a fun thing. Watching others open heartfelt gifts we’ve given imbues a special satisfaction that comes from imparting that happiness to others. The hustle and bustle that goes along with preparing for those times can be demanding, if not down right aggravating at times.

Still, there’s the melancholy remembrance of loved ones we’ve lost (nearly always too soon) – when the lost has been recent, the surrealness and pain is all the more acute. Families may simply be separated or full of conflict and drama worthy of its own reality TV show. Perhaps the mixed bag of emotions includes the pain of lost jobs or relationships that seem to collapsed out of nowhere, and the uncertainty that invariable accompanies such tragedies.

Your life experience almost certainly includes at least two or more of these situations. Regardless, life on planet earth is a mixed bag that we cannot fix (or even deal with, in many cases) on our own. That’s why the Christ Child was born. To help us deal with things that cannot be fixed, to provide us with hope to bring to our lives that which we cannot gain on our own – love, hope, anticipation of a better tomorrow. But more importantly – salvation.

So, as we wrap up Christmas 2013, remember the God became flesh and dwelt among us – Immanuel – God among us. Our hope is found by placing our heart in His hands. Look towards the new year with a renewed hope and trust in the One who came to earth so He could better understand both our joys and our struggles in a real and tangible way. Encourage your groups to respond by being different from the culture around us in 2014 by the way we live, act, walk, and talk. By worshiping the One through who all things were made with all that we are – Jesus Christ.

Tim Revis

Group Life Deacon

tim.revis@firstdecatur.org
217.725.9089