Can I ask you some convicting questions? (That was a rhetorical question by the way, of course I can, I am writing this blog. But it is your choice to read the questions and let them convict you.) So here are the questions. Who are you sharing the deep spiritual stuff of your life with? Who are you being mentored spiritually by (and who are you mentoring)? Are you trying to do the Christian life, all on your own?
One thing we see in scripture is that everything Jesus and the early church did to make disciples was in the context of deep relationships. Jesus called the twelve disciples to follow Him, and for three years they lived with Him, and were trained by Him (Mark 3:14). The early church met daily with other believers in the temple and from house to house (Acts 2:46). The point? Discipleship happened in the context of deep relationships where the disciples spent significant time with each other. Also, there seemed to be an older mentor in the faith leading a small group of disciples as they grew in their own understanding of Jesus and His way of life. This is what we want for our students here at JCBC as well.
Last Sunday night, we launched Student Small Groups at JCBC. Our Small Group program meets in area homes instead of the church to create a more relaxed and intimate environment. Once the students arrive, our time is broken down into three elements that the early church modeled in scripture:
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts 2:42 (NKJV)
When students arrive we have an informal meal together or “break bread.” This is a fun and natural way to catch up with friends and help set the stage for the deeper spiritual things later in the night. After the meal, all the students and leaders gather together into one big room for the main Biblical teaching or “doctrinal” time of the night. Then after a short lesson, each small group of 4-10 students, and an adult leader/leaders, will break out into different rooms of the house for “fellowship” and “prayers.”
But this is not the kind of fellowship time we have before Sunday school or where we go roller-skating or have a hayride. These students don’t really come to be entertained or have superficial conversations. They come to share their lives with each other, to be mentored and pray for one another. This is an opportunity for them to reflect on their spiritual life and to be totally honest and open about their struggles and victories and seek guidance and support, not only from each other, but also from an adult mentor who knows and cares for them. Then, to close out their small group time, each student will share prayer requests, and then spend the last few minutes praying with their group.
So, back to our question. If Jesus and the early church made disciples through relationships, then whom are you sharing your own spiritual struggles and victories with? Who are you mentoring or being mentored by? We all need these kinds of supports and encouragers in our lives, whether you are a student or an adult. We were meant to live the Christian life together. Heck, even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. God gave us the church, Jesus modeled small group ministry, and yet so many of us are trying to follow Him all on our own. Let me encourage you to think about how being a part of a small group might look in your own life and then begin to pray toward that end.
In the meantime, this is what our students and student leaders are doing. Please pray for them as they begin this commitment of relational discipleship in small groups. If you would like to see what this looks like, visit our student ministry Facebook page and check out some of the pictures from our first night of small groups: click here.
Johns Creek Baptist Church