There is a very, very clear instruction for group ministry found in Hebrews 10:24-25:
And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
For the writer of Hebrews, it is essential that we continue to gather. There are a lot of reasons for this:
- We need to remind each other of who God is.
- We need to sit under the preaching of God’s Word so that we might know Him more.
- We need to be surrounded by people who can encourage us in our faith and in good deeds.
- We need to sing and speak and read so that we might remember the promises of God.
And the list can and should go on and on. But these are all things that happen when we meet together. The truth is, though, there is something very sanctifying about the very action of choosing to meet together at all, apart from what happens during that actual meeting. Let me hold up my family as a case study.
It’s Wednesday morning, 6:55 a.m. My wife and I are, most of the time, standing in the kitchen together. One of us is usually making eggs; the other one of us is about to head up the stairs to wake the zombies and taste their wrath because they’ve got to get up and go to school. Then comes the breakfast, the brushing of teeth and hair, the gathering of books, and we’re off—me to the interstate, and the lovely Jana Kelley to the minivan and the drop-off line.
Then the day is really rolling. For me, it’s an endless stream of conversations, emails, and meetings at work. By the time it’s 3 p.m., my eyes are usually bleary from looking at a screen all day. For Jana, it’s delivering kids to this school and then that one, then a regular system of other errands and necessities that have to happen on a weekly basis so that our home doesn’t implode. About the time my eyes are bleeding from the screen time, she’s back in line at the pick-up to gather kids, then onto the homework, the piano lessons, and even more household management. And this is where it gets tricky, because Wednesday is community group night.
And community group night is at our house.
So after the homework is done, the kids are fed, and I get home around 5:45, we’ve got roughly 30 minutes until the folks start showing up. And many weeks—most weeks— it’s really, really hard. Much harder than watching TV. At least once I think about how easy it would be for someone to be “sick.”
And that’s why the act itself of meeting together is sanctifying—it’s because when we choose to meet together, there’s an element of faith and sacrifice associated with doing so. And those two things move us forward with Jesus. Think about it—what would you (or do you) have to sacrifice in order to regularly meet with the people of God? Here are a few things:
- You must sacrifice your time, which could be spent doing something else.
- You have to sacrifice your priorities in order to make room for this one.
- You have to sacrifice your comfort (especially if you’re an introvert) and give of yourself to this meeting.
- You have to sacrifice your rest.
And in each of those things, you flex the muscle of faith in order to propel and motivate you into making that sacrifice:
- You believe that the time you spend here will not be wasted.
- You believe, no matter how important the other things you have going on are, that this is essential for the sake of your heart.
- You believe that what God is doing in you is more important than feeling good at a given moment.
- You believe that ultimate rest is bigger than sleep; rather, it is finding true Sabbath in your accomplished status before God through Jesus.
So, friends, maybe this week you’re wondering if it’s the week to skip. Maybe you’ve got a lot going on. Or maybe the guy leading that environment just isn’t awesome at doing his job. But maybe you should meet together anyway, because the sanctification doesn’t begin and end with what’s discussed in the group. The act of meeting itself has great value.
Michael Kelley lives in Nashville, TN, with his wife, Jana, and three children: Joshua (10), Andi (7), and Christian (5). He serves as Director of Groups Ministry for Lifeway Christian Resources. As a communicator, Michael speaks across the country at churches, conferences, and retreats and is the author of Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal: A Boy, Cancer, and God; Transformational Discipleship; and Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life. Find him on Twitter: @_MichaelKelley.