Pursuing Christ through personal discipleship and private devotion alone will never be complete. Christians are designed to encounter God together with other Christians. While the celebration services at ECB allow Christians to encounter God as Lord of all in His amazing splendor, a LIFE Group is an opportunity for the body of Christ to engage God as Father in His radical nearness and intimacy. Followers of Jesus need the balance of both kinds of encounter. Celebration alone is not enough—we miss God’s intimacy. Being in a LIFE Group is not enough—we miss God’s majesty. Disciples of Jesus have always been called to this Gospel-balance through the large group and the small group encounter (Acts 2:46; 5:42). If you haven’t already done so, make the move to balance your discipleship.
If you are interested in joining a LIFE Group, please contact the Church Office for more details.
What is a LIFE Group? Gospel-Welcome
The Bible says that of all God has made, people are the most precious to Him (Psalm 8:5,6; 139:14-18; Isaiah 43:4; 49:15-16). Therefore, we show that we love what God loves by the way that we treat one another. In the fast-paced, sometimes overwhelming and often frantic lives that we live, too little time is available to truly pay attention to God’s treasured people—whether believers who are the church or pre-Christians who do not yet know Jesus. We barely have time to say “hi”. We rarely have time to look deeply into one another’s hearts and care as Jesus does—to represent Jesus to one another. And if we can’t do it with one another, how will we ever do it with a Christ-starved world? A LIFE Group sets aside time to love what God loves by loving other Christians. It offers the opportunity to pay attention to what God is doing in one another’s lives. There is a chance to bless, pray for and encourage one another. This relational pause in our lives helps us to place priority where God places it and then reap the blessing of His acknowledged presence and power.
What is a LIFE Group? Gospel-Word
Jesus has eternally been the living Word of God-always (John 1:1-5, 9-14). Being the “Word” means that Jesus has always been the finest and clearest way in which God expresses Himself to His creation. But the Word couldn’t “live among us” or “move into the neighborhood” until the Word “became flesh.”—that is, until Jesus became a human being. In a similar way, the written Word of God, or the Gospel must also be incarnational (“in-the-flesh”). It must “become flesh” in the way that it enters into us and takes control over our lives, our behaviors, choices, values, decisions, relationships, possessions and beliefs. While the Gospel is always truth, it may not be seen or believed as true until it is alive in us-until it “becomes flesh.” LIFE Groups at ECB participate in the Word continuing to “become flesh.” Christians hear the Word in celebration gatherings and then prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to work this out in their lives. When a LIFE Group gathers, Christians bring their hearts together with the Holy Spirit, the Word and one another. Time is taken for accountability to the meaning of the Word, confession, prayer for one another and follow-up. This is one of the ways that lives grow in faith. God loves His Word and He loves it in us and between us, cementing our lives.
What is a LIFE Group? Gospel-Worship
Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
Psalm 96:7-8 “Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength, … bring an offering and come into his courts.”
God created human beings in His image and likeness to be those who would display the excellence of His character and His work. In fellowship with God, people both contain and reflect the “glory” of God—that is, how noteworthy, unique and awesome He is.
In Sabbath worship celebrations we use worship tools that announce God’s transcendent greatness. We sing, pray, shout about, recite and bow before the only true God, Who is larger than every other joy and more than a match for any possible threat. We proclaim His greatness and perfection and bring that overwhelming sovereignty to bear on the emptiness of our living. And we are changed by this encounter.
In a LIFE group, we use worship tools that announce God’s immanent nearness. We sing, pray, shout about, recite and bow before the only true God, Who is with us and for us in every joy and every sorrow. As the Spirit of God comes to the center of the smaller gathering, so Jesus comes to the center of our concerns and our priorities. God loves the display of His glory—His greatness and nearness—in the gatherings of His people.
What is a LIFE Group? Gospel-Works
John 20:21-22 “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you … Receive the Holy Spirit.”
John 14:12 “…anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these…”
What a daunting thought—to be called to serve in the place of Jesus! What an encouraging thought—that Jesus never gives any work to me without the power of the Spirit (resurrection power) to accomplish it! What an incredible thought—to do even greater work than Jesus did!
As the Body of Christ, we are continually to be equipped for the work of Jesus. We have His Spirit. We have His Word. We have each other. We minister to each other in community to be prepared for ministry to the world that needs Jesus. We encourage and edify one another “inside the walls” and then join each other in Jesus’ work “outside the walls.”
More intensively and intentionally than our Sabbath celebrations, a weekly LIFE Group at ECB is positioned for this very work—gathering to encourage, edify and equip one another and then prayerfully exploding from Spirit-empowered community into a lost world to engage in the continuing works of Jesus through us. God loves lost people.
What is a LIFE group? Gospel-Visibility
John 17:23 “I [Jesus] in them and you [the Father] in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
While the Gospel is always truth because of Who inspired it and Who it points to, it often fails to be true until it “becomes flesh.”
While the Gospel needs no assistance to be powerful, it always needs a vehicle in order to be seen and embraced.
The body of Christ—the church—will not be edified without a physical and visible expression of the truth of the Gospel between us. It will all be just talk. And the world will never see Jesus or His love without a chance to see it expressed between Christians in a radical way and to pre-Christian people in sacrificial ways. It will all be just exclusive show.
Jesus prayed that the purity of our relationships in Him would be visible to the world, so that the world would believe that God sent Jesus and that God loves people just as He loves Jesus. This fact will always be truth, but it might not become true without the evidence becoming visible to the world in the ways that we live and treat each other. A LIFE Group gives us an opportunity to exhibit Jesus outside the walls of the church. God loves seeing Jesus portrayed to the world through us.
Please click here to visit the LIFE Group Resources downloads page to access KidSlot Resources.