If you were not here last week and you have not listened to what I said last week from the website … I want to encourage you to listen.The series we are in at the moment is important to hear as a whole … please treat it seriously and make use of our website.It is not uncommon for me to be asked why we have not spoken about or done something … only for me to say, yes we did, but you weren’t here!
Catch up from last week.We’ve been giving our small groups some real prayer and consideration, and we’ve been trying to figure out how they work together with the Disciplemaking groups that are proving to be fruitful.Our small groups are intended to be places where community is experienced, friendships can be developed, care is given and people are drawn closer to God.These is church in its smallest form Last week I said that 50% of the adults in the church were not currently in a cell group. I was mistaken and had been using an out of date cell list. In fact just over 60% of adults are in our small groups.Between now and Christmas we are aiming to generate some new groups and hope to have up to 75% of the church in them by the end of the year. Ideally we’d like more than 90% of you in these groups
About five years ago Paul started experimenting with a single sex discipleship group.His original group had seven people in it plus Paul. He learned some things and then started over with the elders. Just over two years ago each elder had a group … these have now been going for a few years.One of our areas of struggle practically speaking was how could we link together our Disciple-Making groups with our cell groups … we now believe we have a way to approach this where these two can integrate with each other.We are just entering Phase 4 which will practically be a significant course correction for us. We, like many churches have struggled to effectively oversee cell leaders … leading to an unacceptably high level of burn out amongst those who have served us as leaders in the past.In the future, cell oversight will be through our Disciple-Making groups which helps us look after our cell leaders in a much better way. Not just managing or overseeing, but discipling the whole person.In a few years time we will have some disciple-making in cellsThere is a Phase 6 … at that stage we should have the capacity and experience to add people into disciple-making groups as they come into the church … depending on the rate of our growth at that point.
So, where are we on Community Engagement?Well I’d like to start in Luke 10 where Jesus is tested by an expert in the Law.The question is How do I get into God’s good books?OK Mr expert … tell me what you think the answer is?This summary of the Law and the prophets is one that Jesus himself used in Matthew 22 where he said that “All of the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
So far so good … but the follow up question is one that would have been debated by rabbis, scribes and other scholars. There was no consensus answer to this question … it’s a bit like asking ‘how long is a piece of string?’.So Jesus tells a story …
Priest, Levite and Samaritan.The highlighted words illustrate the good guys and bad guys of the day … you’re meant to bring it up to date for yourself
So, it might look like this for instanceInstead of a Jehovah’s Witness, you could substitute whatever character you particularly struggle with … I don’t know what that might be for you.
Denarii = a daily wage todays money £200Jesus asks the question and the Expert in the Law is so unhappy about even saying the name ‘Samaritan’ that he avoids it.So, here is the deal, embedded in the centre of the reason why we exist as a church is the need for us to be reaching out to our neighbours… and that extends so far as to include even those we might actively dislike.So, if Jesus is making the point that we are to extend love even to the people we might actively dislike … I think it is pretty clear that we are to be involved in serving our local community!
The apostle Paul put it this way. (That’s a ‘put your nets out again’ phrase).Do good to all. We are to give priority to people within the family, otherwise we would end up neglecting the Command Jesus gave us to love one another, and because this sort of love was to be a validating mark of Christian discipleship.Jesus said ‘By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another’. Sadly all too often between churches and even within churches the outside world sees disputes and petty bickering.
In recent years we have guilty of referring to this negatively by talking too much about having to lay down Little Acorns and give up on KidzKlub two very effective ways of communicating the love of God into our locality.But there has been much more to our involvement than those two activitiesCommunity ministries. That are helping families within the church but would benefit anyone who cameRelationships … Marriage Preparation (Have you found the right one?) Marriage Course (How can you make a marriage grow?) Parenting Courses Divorce Recovery (want to do) Alpha (it’s about developing a relationship with God!)Money Community Debt Advice Handling Money well (want to do)Prayer Prayer Ministry team Treasure Hunting (HOTS … want to do)Supporting local Christian Charities. There are members of the church volunteering in a number of ways:Furnistore … Richard Peats, volunteer driverWelcare … Kim Brandt works with familiesSparkFish … Mark Hope is a trusteeStreet Pastors … John Van HoofOther local Charities and volunteer organizations:ESDAS … Becca KenyonReigate & Banstead Volunteer Centre … Helen HawkinsMerstham Community Facility … various members of the churchMerstham Good Neighbours Scheme … Rob & Pascale Siddall instrumental in setting this upVarious School Governors, listening to children reading in the classroom, members of the PTA etc
And finallyMy primary application is that it is time to put out the nets again.During a prayer meeting sometime last year with about 45 people present, I asked anyone who had ever led a small group cell group etc in RRCC or a previous church to sit down … only five people were left standing.In all likelihood this means that there are a good number of you who feel’ ‘I’ve done my turn as a cell leader … I’ve ticked that box and I am not going to do that again’. Well, it may be that for the benefit of others (and yourself) it is time to pick it up again.I remember a conversation with John Elphick about this when he was already in his 70’s. He said to me that he was not going to lead a cell group again … he was past that.I asked him if the Lord had told him that, or whether that was simply his preference and opinion.Freely you have received; freely give.
Review<br />Put out your nets again<br />Build your life on the foundation of Jesus Christ<br />Keep putting God first<br />Settle it in your heart that God loves numeric growth<br />We need to press on towards maturity<br />
Small groups & Disciple-Making<br />What do our cell groups do?They aim to connect people …… to God … to one another …to others<br />What do our Disciple-Making groups do?At this stage our primary aim is that …They care for and develop our leaders<br />
Disciple-Making<br />Phase 1 [2006 – 2007]Paul Hanley + seven others in trial group<br />Phase 2 [2007 – 2008]Paul Hanley + the other elders<br />Phase 3 [2008 – 2011]All elders have their own Disciple-Making groups<br />Phase 4 [2011 – 2013]All leaders to be in Disciple-Making groups<br />Phase 5 [2013 – 2015]Disciple-Making within cells<br />
Luke 10: 25-27<br />On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” <br />“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” <br />He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” <br />
Luke 10: 28-30<br />“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” <br />But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” <br />In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. <br />
Luke 10: 31-34<br />A Priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. <br />
Luke 10: 31-34<br />A church leader happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Cell Leader, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Jehovah’s Witness, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. <br />
Luke 10: 35-37<br />The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’<br />“Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” <br />The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” <br />Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” <br />
Galatians 6: 9-10<br />Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.<br />
Community Engagement<br />RRCC Community ministries <br />Involvement in local Christian Charities<br />Involvement in other local Charities <br />Growing partnerships with other churches<br />People in their work places<br />
Matthew 10: 7 - 8<br />As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.<br />