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A Picture of Small Group Life by John McLawhorn

• John McLawhorn

Posted in Discipleship, Every-Member Ministry, Fellowship, Relationships, Small Groups

This past Sunday John McLawhorn shared about his family's involvement in the Scott Moonen home group. What he said painted a vivid picture of the benefits of living life with other Christians in this kind of setting. I hope it inspires you to get involved in a group if you're not currently in one, and to get even more involved in your group if you do attend one.

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I want to share a little today about our involvement in home group. Home group has allowed us the opportunity to dig deeper into God's Word and to expand upon the truths taught in the pulpit. Since we began attending Sovereign Grace almost 8 years ago, we've moved through a few seasons of life. The regular meetings in the homes of our friends through these years has greatly influenced our ability to apply biblical instruction to our specific circumstances.

Though we may come from different backgrounds and span a spectrum of ages and seasons of life, we all share the same need for the grace of God and a mutual desire to grow in the love of Christ. These meetings are a vital part of that growth as disciples and a great means of God's operational grace among his people. I'm always amazed at the wisdom and revelation imparted by the Spirit during our time together.

As believers, we all too easily hear the Word of God on Sunday and equate our agreement with the message with our full obedience in practice. Regular time with our home group really opens our eyes to the opportunities we may have otherwise missed in our own circumstances to align our behavior with our beliefs. As we watch others in home group up close practicing love, patience, wisdom, and sacrifice for the people in their lives, we get a front-row example in following Christ. Navigating life with our brothers and sisters hugely increases our chances of staying off the rocks that our own nearsightedness can lead us to. We've had the privilege of friends in these last few years that have allowed us to wonder aloud on so many topics, to ask for prayer and insight on major and minor decisions, and to enjoy life together in its times of struggle as well as ease.

As the “body suffers when one member suffers and rejoices when a member is honored”, we have been able to bear each others burdens through childbirths, sicknesses, and struggles with sin and the loss of loved ones. A hot meal, a heartfelt prayer, or word in season has helped to carry us through difficulties. We've been on the receiving end so many times of meals and help as we welcome babies, or experience a hardship. The families around us have been the hands and feet of Jesus so many times, and without expectation or condition. How much we have learned about true giving and serving from their kindness. With a generous hand, they have ladled on patience and grace in order to maintain fellowship. I have made great friendships and have grown to know some of the folks in our group very well over the years.

Holding each other accountable is one way that we grow together and build each other up. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” I have been challenged by the different examples of the men in our group who are excelling in many different ways from parenting, to marriage, and practical things like budgeting. Our separate men's and women's group meetings are opportunities for learning to open up about our individual experiences and what God is doing in our hearts. As we confess our sins and pray for one another our hearts are expanded and our friendships deepened. One of the hopes of Christians is to one day stand transparently before God's throne both knowing and being fully known. This intimacy with our Lord can begin to be cultivated in our love and commitment to one another. Our home group has been to us a means of growing in this type of Christ-like fellowship.

Paul exhorts the Ephesian church to “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. So here's an example of the effort others have gone to in order to preserve fellowship at inconvenient times. It just isn't always easy to get together. Sometimes it really takes work and compromise to keep in touch.

After our twins were born, all our kids were five and under, and we felt pretty immobile for a really long time. We had a joke for a long time over the Grassers, who would call us up—last minute many times—and yes, surprise! our calendar was free! For about a year or two...maybe three...it seemed like every time they came over...we served spaghetti (again! Or walmart pizza) and we'd all eat dinner and let the kids play...then Emily would disappear for a good 45 minutes at least to feed the twins and then, we'd both disappear to change diapers and tuck all 4 girls in to bed. The whole process must have taken at least an hour, smack in the middle of the evening. But after all the kids were tucked in, we'd sit down for dessert and games or talking. And, we were so blessed to have families like that at that time.

And truthfully, all of the families in our group have been great about getting together whatever the challenge. We spent identical evenings with Moonens and Ehresmans, and look forward to the same comfortableness with the new families in our group. We know we've grown close when we've spent rainy days at the beach together, stuck inside with what feels like thousands of children running around. And everyone has been up for scheduling again for next year! Sunday morning is a great time, but it isn't sufficient to build and maintain close godly relationships that help us keep a faithful and joyful walk with the Lord. Home group has served that purpose. We have found that the more we have shared our everyday moments, the more we have been fed, and the more we have been able to minister.

As far as our regular home group meetings go, I just really appreciate Scott's diligence to draw out conversation and facilitate discussion. It really is evident that his desire is to make our meetings comfortably accessible for everyone. Special thought is given to the details of childcare needs, snacks, and scheduling ahead. I'm really grateful that fellowship opportunities have been prioritized as a way of life, and he does a great job of both encouraging the work of getting together as well as simplifying the work of getting together as much as possible. When we are together, we really benefit so much from the different experiences and giftings of one another. There are so many graces and strengths from the Lord at work in each of us. In all these things: thru bible study, discipleship, worship, acts of kindness, and lasting friendships we count it a great privilege to be part of such a wonderful work of God.

John McLawhorn

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