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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Why You NEED To Connect

One of the essential pieces of being a disciple of Jesus is to connect in authentic relationship with others. When we are at our greatest level of strength, we have connected on three levels.

The first level of connection we experience is in fellowship with others. This is where we worship together, learn together, gather together. A lot of people call this "going to church."

The second level of connection is family. Family is more intimate than fellowship. It is where we make the commitment to regularly spend time with a few people so that we know others and we become known. At our church we call this a small group.

The third level of connection is friendship. This is a one-on-one relationship where you give someone permission to speak truth into your life. It is built upon a high level of trust and the expectation of honesty and grace. This is the fulfillment of James' command to "confess your sins to one another and pray for each other that you may be healed." (James 5:16)

Most people who call themselves Christians stop at level 1 connection. It is a good place to start but a terrible place to stop. We experience God most deeply and grow most profoundly in the context of relationship. The level of relationship we experience in the fellowship context is minimal. It is in the family and friendship context that we really grow in relationship with God and others.

Here's the deal: if you are going to connect with family and friends it takes the willingness to make the tough choices to put those relationships as a priority. The true measure of what we value is shown in what we do, not in what we say. Real relationships require us to say "No" to the good things so we can say "Yes" to the best things.

I got an e-mail from a friend recently that spoke of her small group experience. She communicates why we NEED to connect.

"Dear Small Group friends,

Whenever I have thought or prayed about small groups it has always been in the context of the question: Why Small Groups? Some conclusions are a community of believers, spiritual/personal growth and missional outreach. I have read about and contemplated this subject a lot over the recent years both in ministry in Southern Calif and as it pertains to CSCC. I have been wanting to consider what are the things God wants me to bring to the proverbial small group table. What I did not expect to experience was the outpouring of grace, love and support that I have received from all of you.

My heart overflows with gratitude and love for each of you...

...And most of all- I know of your prayers. I appreciate your prayers. I ask for your prayers. And having people who are interested in praying for me is indeed an awesome thing.

In so many ways... you have all made a lasting impact on me. God has used you- my small group brothers and sisters- so very powerfully. All the reading, seminars, contemplation, etc... couldn't enlighten me better than you all have... Small group is one of God's most significant ways to show us His grace.

Thank you for doing life with me... even when life is messy. You are in my prayers. You are in my heart.

God bless you."
You can't get that on Sunday morning.


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