Many churches today have an emphasis on small groups. I’ve been involved in small groups, and have passionately promoted them in ministry since 1988. While strategies have changed over the years, some things that remain the same are the need for doing life together and the scriptures that clearly demonstrate this reality. Here are four foundational scriptures that promote Biblical community, and why it’s vital for Christ-followers to do life together.
Creation – Genesis 1-2
In the beginning, after each day of creation, God said, “It is good.” And after the sixth day, when he created humankind, he said, “It is very good.” But then God said something remarkable. He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Wait…what? When God and Adam enjoyed perfect harmony together in a world unspoiled by sin, when everything was “very good,” God said something was “not good”?
God knew that deep down inside every human being was the need for intimate, mutually satisfying relationships. The animals God had created weren’t going to suffice. Adam needed something more. So God created Eve and instituted human relationships.
The book of Genesis tells us that humans were created in God’s image. God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” (Genesis 1:27). Ever wonder who God was talking to? God, by nature, is Trinity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God’s very nature is relational. And since we were created in his image, we were made to be in relationships!
Jesus and His disciples – Mark 3
When Jesus called his disciples into ministry, he called them to do two things. He called them to preach and have authority (Mark 3:13-15). But equally important, he called them to “be with him.” Don’t miss this! Part of the calling on the disciples’ lives was to spend time with Jesus.
I imagine the first day Jesus got all the disciples together, they were eager to go out and preach, heal the sick and cast out demons. And I imagine Jesus saying, “Yes, we’ll get to that. But first we’re going to hang out. We’re going to get to know each other. Because developing friendships and building trust will be an essential factor in our ministry as we go forward.”
OK, maybe Jesus didn’t actually say that, but you get the point. Jesus’ emphasis on relational interdependence is a model for us today.
Jesus’ prayer for unity – John 17
Just before Jesus’ arrest, the Gospel of John records a prayer of Jesus. He prays for his disciples and for all believers. And the main point of his prayer is unity. He prayed, “that they might be one” (John 17:11).
Look at the depth of unity Jesus prayed for us to have. He prayed that his followers would be one, “as we are one.” He’s praying that his followers would be as close as Jesus is to God!
Question…how close are Jesus and God? Tough to answer because, well…they are one! According to Jesus’ prayer, that’s how close he wants his followers to be. That’s how unified he wants the church to be!
The early church – Acts 2
Ever wonder why Jesus commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for 40 days before empowering them with the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:29)? I think it was because the disciples weren’t ready. They needed 40 days together in the Upper Room to talk things out.
What did they talk about? “Hey, Peter. Remember those times you denied knowing Jesus?” “Hey, James and John. Remember that time when you told all of us that you wanted to be the greatest in Jesus’ kingdom?” “Hey, Thomas. Remember that time when you doubted Jesus was raised?”
I think each disciple needed to talk with the others, to clear the air, to rebuild relationships and regain trust. The disciples were going to carry on the ministry of Jesus, but they first needed to work some things out. You just need to read a little more in Acts chapter 2 and 4 to see how their unity impacted the church in Jerusalem, and beyond.
Life is better connected. Doing life together is an essential strategy to grow as a Christ follower. So as you lead in your ministry, remember and use these scriptures and Biblical principles to promote Biblical community.