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Lifegroups: The Early Church Model

 We’ve been talking about how, as Grace Chapel grows, we can, at the same time, become smaller. One way, and the way modeled by Jesus Christ Himself, is Lifegroups.

Interestingly enough, after Jesus left this earth and His apostles began preaching and bringing people to Jesus, they adopted the idea of local small groups.

Gareth Weldon Icenogle, is the senior pastor of West Side Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He describes how early Christian small groups (or Lifegroups as we call them at Grace Chapel) formed from the larger group of new Christians. These early church groups gave Christians confidence in doing God’s ministry work. They also nurtured an environment that produced discipleship and fruit:

The practice of small group disciples provided a strong identity and base from which the ecclesia church could do ministry and venture into mission . . . Luke’s description of the ministry of these early Christian small groups included selling their possessions and goods and giving to anyone who had need, meeting daily, breaking bread together, and praising God (Acts 2:45–47). They met together as a base for ministry, as well as to provide a supportive environment for the apostles to do “many wonders and miraculous signs” (Acts 2:43).[1]

Lifegroups in the early church helped establish patterns for fellowship and for people to reach others in need. Halley’s Bible Handbook says, “The communal life allowed for individual family and vocational activities as well as significant time spent together in fellowship.”[2]

Lifegroups, or small groups, gave the early Church an incredible start. They gave believers a place to go for fellowship, prayer, worship and refuge. They provided a loving and supportive place where people could share intimately with each other the challenges of daily life in a society dominated by idol worship and self-focus.

We need to do the same thing. Church isn’t simply sitting in a pew on Sunday morning. Church, as modeled by the early Church, includes being a part of a small group of people doing life together.  It involves fellowship, prayer, praise and learning God’s Word together in a safe, encouraging environment. A Lifegroup is a place where we have the opportunity to come together as friends in face-to-face relationships and encourage, share faith and make Jesus more real. It’s that simple.

Jesus led and was part of a small group.

The early Church was built on small groups of believers gathering together.

Shouldn’t you, whether you are part of the Grace Chapel family or not, be a part of a Lifegroup? Believe me, it will significantly impact your life, your family, your work and your walk with God if you just take that one easy step to be a part of a group of people who will love you and want God’s best for you.

How about it?

[1] Gareth Weldon Icenogle, Biblical Foundations for Small Group Ministry: An Integrational Approach (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 324

[2] Henry H. Halley, Halley’s Bible Handbook, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), e-Pub edition

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