ISSUE 9 // SEPTEMBER 2013
WHY SMALL GROUPS? BY C.J. MAHANEY
September WE’RE GLAD YOU’RE HERE!
We are a church with a mission. Our mission is to proclaim, embody, and enjoy the gospel of Jesus Christ so that unbelievers are convinced of the gospel, believers are built up in the gospel, and culture is transformed by the gospel to the glory of God. Because the gospel is at our heart, we want all that we say and do as a church to honor and reflect Christ. Part of that includes making sure you are able to consistently and clearly know the vision and direction of Redeemer. That’s where Momentum comes in. On the first Sunday of every month, everyone will receive a copy and be able to stay connected to the pulse of Redeemer. Inside each monthly issue, you will find a meditation from Pastor Glenn, an update on the church’s vision goals, and learn more about a different ministry. You’ll also read about where you can help serve and get involved, as well as be updated on things like church finances, new members, and church activities and programs throughout the month. Redeemer is a church on the move, and it’s the gospel that is moving it forward. The gospel is our passion, our motivation, our moving force. It’s our momentum.
THE GOSPEL IS THE GOOD NEWS OF WHAT GOD HAS DONE FOR US THROUGH HIS SON, JESUS. When God created the world, he created us in his image to rule the earth under his authority. Instead, through Adam who represented us, we preferred to be the rulers ourselves and rebelled against God by breaking his command Because of that, God brought about consequences, namely death and hell, for people who are rebels, which is all of us. But because God is loving, he didn’t choose to forget his creation, of which we are a part. Instead, he decided to remake it. He chose to remake everything through Jesus Christ, the eternal son of God who became man. Jesus was the one who lived the life we ought to have lived, and died the death we deserved to die, so that, if we put our faith and trust in him, turning from our sins and our rebellion, he remakes us new. He remakes our vision for the world and enables us to fulfill our calling in the world. Through Jesus, God is restoring everything.
WHY SMALL GROUPS?
“Small groups provide the encouragement, correction, and accountability that keep us from drifting. As important as it is to cultivate a personal relationship with God by practicing the spiritual disciplines, we need others to help us in our pursuit of sanctification. If you have a passion for personal change—and every Christian should—then you will be glad when others challenge you to grow. This should not be seen as abnormal, or as the domain of those with an unusual level of maturity. It should be viewed as the normal process that follows new birth, expressed in a desire to conform to the image of Jesus Christ.” - C.J. MAHANEY
MEDITATE ON THIS 4 | So what are we talking about when we say “personal evangelism”?
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meditate on this
BY: PASTOR MARK SUCHTA
few days ago, I was given the
an article on “personal evangelism.” When you
what comes to mind? Guilt, fear, anxiousness, all the above?
Relax, you are in good company!
you are (and if
they aren’t it is
only because of
uncomfortable conversations in
which both the Christian and the
butter knife. Part of why I think that,
is because that has been me on several
Humility because that is the only
So what are we talking about when we say
MOMENTUM // SEPTEMBER 2013
sinners, not the righteous.
occasions. Not fun.
good news of Jesus Christ with a person. Still sound scary? It doesn’t
room for boasting).
and you can cut the tension with a
“personal evangelism”? We are talking about sharing the
life so there is no
unbeliever don’t want to be there,
way the Gospel works. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
have to be. Because sharing the Gospel with a person is meant
3) JOY: Joy because you have been rescued.
to be done, like everything else in life, as an overflow. Overflow in
YOU HAVE BEEN RESCUED! You have been
what? Overflow of gospel intake. Let me explain.
plucked from death row, and brought into
As we are taking in our daily doses of the Gospel through
the family of God. Joy because the heavenly
repentance (turning from sin/self-righteousness and turning to
Father’s disposition towards you is nothing
Christ alone for forgiveness in joy)? This is then meant to give us
but love and joy because of what Jesus has
the three things necessary for Gospel conversations: boldness,
done for you.
humility and joy.
When you allow the Gospel to propel you
1) BOLDNESS: Boldness because people are going to hell every
towards unbelievers with boldness, humility
day. There is a lot on the line. Boldness because you are standing on
and joy, it will become more and more natural.
the word of God, which is true regardless of a person’s indifference
It will be something that you “get” to do. You
to it. Boldness despite opposition, because you love that person
get to be a part of God’s rescue plan for the
and they need to hear the truth of the Gospel.
2) HUMILITY: Humility because you didn’t choose God, God chose you and it had nothing to do with your morality. Humility because the person you are speaking to is probably much more loving and
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q & a with
MINISTRY DIRECTOR: PASTOR BOOMER PEEL
INTERVIEWED BY: BRITTNEY WESTIN
FOR THOSE WHO ARE NEW TO REDEEMER, CAN YOU
responders to meet spiritual needs as they
EXPLAIN WHAT COMMUNITY GROUPS ARE AND HOW THEY
arise in the lives of our members.
MOMENTUM // SEPTEMBER 2013
Community Groups are at the heart of what the Lord is doing
WHY DOES REDEEMER PLACE SUCH AN
at Redeemer Bible Church. It’s the place where the gospel is
IMPORTANT EMPHASIS ON COMMUNITY
being brought to bear in the lives of our members. But how
Community Groups have functioned in the past is changing a
Community Groups are going to be the
bit. What we’ve typically done in the past as we come together
most applicable place for us to practice the
is have a time of worship and fellowship with one another. We
one-anothers of Scripture, and is where
open up God’s word together and go over the recent sermon,
that practice will be the most fruitful. That’s
talking about how it applies to our lives. We pray for one
because your Community Group is the place
another, share praises, sin struggles and prayer requests with
where you’re getting together with other
one another, and some groups also eat together. Currently, one
believers who live near you, who worship with
of the main focuses of Community Groups is shepherding. This
you every Sunday morning, who are able to be
isn’t only the mechanism by which we shepherd the church,
there in a moment’s notice if need be. So when
from the eldership down through the Community Groups, but
we look at the commands of Scripture, and
it’s one of the main ways we shepherd one another.
we look at the opportunities we have within our church, or just the universal church as a
CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT EXACTLY SHEPHERDING IS? Basically, shepherding is a term for leading. We as pastors
whole, having Community Groups just makes the most sense.
are called to oversee the flock and we will have to one day give an account for our people. So one way that we do that,
WE TALK A LOT ABOUT THE “ONE-
which becomes more and more important as we become a
ANOTHERS” OF SCRIPTURE AT REDEEMER.
bigger church, is by shepherding through Community Groups.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT THOSE ARE AND
The groups are one of the pastures into which the shepherds
HOW OUR COMMUNITY GROUPS SEEK TO
of Redeemer are leading God’s people, leading the members,
PUT THEM INTO PRACTICE?
since the elders can’t meet one on one on a regular basis with
They’re the commands of Christ in how we
all the members. Community Groups are meant to be the first
should be with each other. There are dozens
of them in Scripture, but a few that really sum
and all of our ministries. What we want to happen is life-on-life
up Community Groups are: fellowshipping
discipleship, or disciples making disciples. So for Community
with one another, praying for one another,
Group leaders, that’s going to mean trying to foster connections
confessing our sins to one another, ministering
within our groups. Whether it’s two guys in my group discipling
gifts to one another, spurring one another on,
one another, or a guy from my group and a guy from another
building up one another, encouraging one
group discipling one another, or a guy in my group discipling
another, forgiving one another, and carrying
through the men’s ministry, it doesn’t really matter. We just
one another’s burdens. In Community Groups,
want to make sure that everyone is being discipled and is
we want to live those out with each other.
discipling someone else. We’re also trying to minimize, as much
Ultimately, the biggest one is to love one
as humanly possible, the shuffling around of groups. The last
another. John 13:34 says if you’re going to love
few years we’ve had to do a lot of reorganization and this year
one another, then you’re going to do all of
we’re trying to do zero. That’s what we want to continue to
these other things that Scripture tells us to do
do in the future. But the biggest challenge we have right now
regarding the one-anothers.
is getting enough leaders and hosts to get our Community Groups down to an appropriate size, where it’s like 8 to 14
HOW CAN WE CREATE AN ATMOSPHERE
people or something along those lines. Having large groups is
OF RELATIONAL HONESTY WITHIN
what makes it necessary for us to do more reorganization. So
OUR GROUPS WHERE PEOPLE FEEL
as the church is getting bigger and we’re getting more people,
COMFORTABLE BEING VULNERABLE WITH
I’m praying, and I’d love other people to be praying, that we’d
get more leaders and hosts.
In having conversations with the Community Group leaders and with the elders, we came to
HOW CAN COMMUNITY GROUPS SEEK TO TRANSFORM
the realization that people aren’t going to go
THEIR OWN NEIGHBORHOODS AND COMMUNITIES?
deep and be transparent if Community Group
To be honest, I don’t think they play enough of a role in that
is simply an event that happens on a Sunday
right now. I think we need to do more to be looking out to our
afternoon. So we need to make Community
neighbors and our communities. Sometimes we can tend toward
Groups a lifestyle. Because of what Jesus
being inward focused, which is not always a bad thing, but we
did, He made us into a community, so we’re
get together for Community Group and we want to be with one
already a community. The problem that we’ve
another and help one another. But that’s never supposed to be
had up until now is that Community Groups
the end of it. We are supposed to be spurred on to reach out to
haven’t felt this way. It’s always been an event,
our unbelieving friends and family members and neighbors. So
so we want to make it a lifestyle by having
that’s why in the next year another focus of Community Groups
Community Groups become part of a natural
will be making sure that we’re being really intentional about
rhythm of life. For example, if I get together
praying for our unbelieving friends and family members, and
with my family, we don’t just go to the same
then discussing that within our groups. For instance, every time
place at the same time on the same day.
we get together, I’m going to have a list of one or two people,
Sometimes we’ll go to a restaurant, sometimes
and you’re going to have a list of one or two people, and we’re
we’ll go to a sporting event, sometimes we’ll
going to be praying for them on a regular basis. Each week we
go to a kid’s recital or something like that. So
might have two people out of the group share what’s going on
that’s what we want to do more of; we want to
with those relationships. So we’re going to be more intentional
do the one-anothers where each of us is at in
about that to get us looking outward. We’re also going to be
our normal rhythm of life. I think that change,
encouraging groups to get into their communities and serve in
along with others we plan to make, is going to
various ways. Maybe go to a local restaurant and get to know a
be a big part of getting people to go deeper
server. We want to know the people in our communities, which
and be more transparent in our groups.
is again that natural rhythm of life.
Hopefully it will cause us to get to know each HOW HAVE YOU SPECIFICALLY SEEN THE GOSPEL AT
just an event.
WORK THROUGH OUR COMMUNITY GROUPS? One thing that has been huge for Community Groups is that
WHAT OTHER CHANGES ARE TAKING
it’s also at the front line of the Mercy Ministry. We have dozens
PLACE WITHIN THE GROUPS FOR NEXT
of testimonies of people receiving mercy help through their
Community Groups and in pretty significant ways. We could
Besides the change in flexibility, which will
end up having a lot of people give testimonies of how the
not only be in the days and times that we’re
Lord is using their Community Groups to give them a greater
meeting, but also where we meet, there’s
understanding of God’s love for them. //RBC
also a discipleship piece that’s going to end up being a big focus across all of Redeemer
MOMENTUM // SEPTEMBER 2013
other more and Community Group won’t be
WHY SMALL GROUPS?
BY: C.J. MAHANEY
ou see, but you do not observe,”
simply because they were popular—the latest
said Sherlock Holmes to his loyal
church trend. Obviously, that isn’t a sufficient
friend, Dr. Watson. “The distinction
motive. Current trends rarely provide a church
is clear. For example, you have
frequently seen the steps which
ministry won’t ultimately be effective unless it
lead up from the hall to this room.”
exists to achieve biblical purposes.
For lack of a biblical purpose and mandate,
many small groups have floundered. Other
“Well, some hundreds of times.”
“Then how many are there?”
“How many? I don’t know.”
good resources available. It is no
“Quite so! You have not observed. And yet
exaggeration to say that most
you have seen. This is just my point. Now, I
popular books and guides dealing
know that there are seventeen steps, because
with the topic of small groups are
I have both seen and observed.”1
shockingly deficient in sound doctrine. I don’t
say this lightly. I have reviewed them for years, If you have read any of Sir Arthur Conan
and have found a greater emphasis on modern
Doyle’s classic detective stories, you know
psychology and sociology than on thorough,
that Sherlock Holmes often rebukes Dr.
Watson for his oversight. But Watson was no
Most of these materials are well-produced.
fool. Like me, and probably you, he simply
They feature numerous thought-provoking
lacked Holmes’ unusually strong gifts of
questions and illustrations. Undoubtedly the
observation and deduction. He could see
publishers want to help Christians grow. But
the very same situations as Holmes without
without solid biblical content, these materials
noticing important details. As Holmes stated,
can actually hinder God’s intentions for us as
Watson saw…but he did not observe.
individuals and groups.
By the way—if I had been in Watson’s place,
Despite these concerns,
I might have answered the famous detective
I see small groups as a
a bit differently. I would at least have been
priority for every Christian
tempted to say, “How many steps? Who cares!
and every church. Why?
Just solve the case, pal.”
Sherlock Holmes cared. Observation was a
constantly underscores the
critical tool of his trade. It’s critical for us as
centrality of relationships.
well as we examine the subject of small groups.
J.I. Packer agrees:
You see, too many of us view small groups the
We should not think of
way Watson viewed the staircase. We see but
our fellowship with other
we don’t observe. We attend a group without
Christians as a spiritual
understanding its real purpose. We fail to
luxury, an optional addition
understand why our small group exists.
to the exercises of private
And if we don’t know God’s purpose for small groups, we’re never going to achieve it.
devotions. Fellowship is one of the great words of the New Testament: it denotes
SMALL GROUPS ARE ELEMENTARY, MY
something that is vital to a
Christian’s spiritual health,
Since at least the mid-1970s, the church
and central to the Church’s
in America has been fascinated with small
true life…The church will
groups. The majority of churches have at least
flourish and Christians will
experimented with small groups, and many
be strong only when there
still maintain active small-group ministries of
Genuine fellowship isn’t
However, from my limited perspective, a
practical in a crowd of 200
number of these churches never hammered
or 2,000. That’s why I feel
out a clear purpose and set of biblical goals
so strongly that churches
when beginning their small groups. Some did,
must create small groups
and I commend them. It is these churches that
no doubt have had the greatest success with
develop intimate relationships, where they
their small groups. But others started groups
can “know and be known.” A church following
a biblical model will not just “have” small groups. It will not merely “offer” small groups. Rather, it will be built with small groups.
two doctrines. I have given Dr. Grudem’s definition of sanctification above. He defines the doctrine
As I stated before, though, small groups will
of justification this way:
only serve the church if they are founded on
Justification is an instantaneous legal act of
sound doctrine and sustained
God in which he 1) thinks of our sins as forgiven
by a clear biblical purpose. That
brings us to the title of this
chapter and this book: Why Small
Christ’s belonging us,
To answer the question posed
declares us to be
by that title, let me present what I consider to
righteous in his
be four clear goals from Scripture: progressive
sanctification, mutual care, fellowship, and the
Justification refers to a Christian’s position before God. The moment you were born
ministry of the Holy Spirit.
again, God justified you. On the basis of WHAT SANCTIFICATION IS—AND IS NOT
Christ’s finished work, God thought of your
Theologian Wayne Grudem provides a fine, concise definition of this critical doctrine:
sins as forgiven and declared that you were righteous.
“Sanctification is a progressive work of God
Sanctification, on the other hand, refers
and man that makes us more and more free
to our practice before God. It is the ongoing
from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.”3
process of battling sin and becoming more like
That’s the goal of the Christian life, isn’t it?
Jesus. Though sanctification is the evidence
Increasing freedom from sin and increasing
and goal of our justification, we must never see
resemblance to Jesus. Small groups provide
it as the basis of our justification. Here’s where
an ideal context for this to occur.
so many Christians get confused. They try to
earn what has already been given to them as
is intent on this purpose,
a free gift. As Martin Luther stated, “The only
however. Some put a higher
contribution we make to our justification is our
priority on socializing than
sin which God so graciously forgives.”
excel in open sharing and
righteous; sanctification is about becoming
more righteous. Justification is immediate;
righteous. It does not take place by degrees.
complete the moment God declares us is
Sanctification, however, is a process that lasts
purpose can do more harm than good. Groups
as long as we live. Finally, while every Christian
that meet without the biblical purpose of
enjoys the same degree of justification, we
pursuing character development have the
vary in terms of sanctification. You will never
tendency to reinforce, rather than confront,
be more justified than you are at this moment,
the sin and selfishness already present in us.
because justification is an act of God. But
None of us needs such reinforcement. Instead,
we need to be provoked and challenged by
grace, you will
others so we can change for the glory of God.
Let me make one critical insertion here
before going any further. I’ve spoken with
many Christians who, whether they realize it or
not, don’t understand the difference between
God’s Spirit in
the doctrine of sanctification and the doctrine
the process of
of justification. Because this confusion can
lead to serious spiritual consequences, let
me take a minute to distinguish these critical
truths. Please follow closely—the rest of this
book (and the rest of your Christian life!)
b e t w e e n
depends on a clear understanding of these
and sanctification, these two doctrines are
taken place in the fellowship of
inseparable. God does not justify someone
the local church—specifically, in
without sanctifying him as well. Sanctification
small groups. On many occasions,
is not optional. If one has truly been justified,
members of my small group have
that will be evident by a progressive work
lovingly (but firmly) confronted
of sanctification in his life. Small groups
my sin and held me accountable
contribute to this magnificent and gradual
as I pursued change. Of course,
work of grace in our lives.
responsible for convicting me of DON’T TRY THIS ALONE Although
these things, but I can only guess responsibility
where I would be without such
faithful friends. God has used
sanctification cannot be accomplished in
them time after time to address
sins in my life that I would never
the local church.
have perceived if I were on my
It’s been sobering to observe others who
have chosen not to participate in a local church
intended to take
or in small groups. They have demonstrated
place in the local church—and small groups
a distinct lack of growth. What’s worse, they
contribute invaluably to this process. Consider
haven’t even been aware of their spiritual
these insights by theologian Bruce Milne:
condition and stagnation.
The Christian life is inescapably corporate.
Small groups provide the encouragement,
Teaching on Christian holiness has frequently
correction, and accountability that keep us
concentrated almost exclusively on the
from drifting. As important as it is to cultivate
“holy man” or the “holy woman,” to the
a personal relationship with God by practicing
the spiritual disciplines, we need others to help us in our pursuit of sanctification.
If you have a passion for personal change—
people” or the
and every Christian should—then you will
be glad when others challenge you to grow.
The ideal of the
This should not be seen as abnormal, or as
the domain of those with an unusual level of
Christian individual,” able to meet every
maturity. It should be viewed as the normal
spiritual challenge and live a life of unbroken
process that follows new birth, expressed in a
victory over sin and the devil, has undoubtedly
desire to conform to the image of Jesus Christ.
produced remarkable examples of Christian
We should be seriously and unapologetically
character; but, as every Christian counselor
committed to change.
knows, this emphasis has driven many to a lonely struggle ending in despair and disillusionment, or, worse, in the hypocrisy of
WHO IS YOUR NATHAN? Cain, when questioned by God about the murder of Abel, tried to deny he was his
a double-standard life. This whole approach needs re-examination.
brother’s keeper (Gen 4:9).
The bulk of New Testament teaching on the
But he was. We all are. We have a
Christian life, including the major sections
responsibility to help our brothers and sisters
on holiness, occur in letters addressed to
keep the will of God. The common term for this
corporate groups, to churches. All the major
is accountability. It is a specific way in which
exhortations to holy living are plural — “we,”
relationships help us achieve sanctification.
“you” (Ro 6:1-23; Gal 5:13-6:10; Eph 4:17-6:18)...
Charles Swindoll has said “Accountability
Similarly all the New Testament promises of
includes opening one’s life to a few carefully
victory are corporate (1Co 15:57; 1Jn 5:4; Rev
15:2). In other words the apostles envisaged
who speak the truth—who have the right to
the Christian life and Christian sanctification
examine, to question, to approve, and to give
counsel.” Don Cousins has called it “Allowing
in the context of a loving, caring
By the grace of God, I’ve experienced
what Milne is describing. Many of the most
uncomfortable questions in order to challenge
significant changes in my Christian life have
you to grow.”
The lives of King David
and his son Solomon
another. Nothing changes us more effectively
illustrate the importance
than the application of Scripture. I’m aware
of this every time I preach. What a sobering
When David committed
responsibility! And yet I’m also aware that my
words—no matter how passionately I deliver
them or how persuasive they may seem—will
her husband Uriah, he
often fail to bear fruit. That’s because merely
hearing God’s Word is insufficient. It bears
fruit only when we apply it. And as we’ll see in
a minute, small groups are an ideal context for
2 Samuel 11-12). As a result, he repented of his
applying God’s Word. The Book of James uses a humorous
sin and received God’s
forgiveness. What would
Do not merely listen to the word, and so
without Nathan in his
deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone
who listens to the word but does not do what
Solomon, on the other hand,
it says is like a man who looks at his face in a
mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away
no one like Nathan to
and immediately forgets what he looks like.
as he began to disobey God’s
I don’t know anybody who wakes up in the morning, looks in the mirror, and then leaves the house without making some strategic
severely disciplined by
changes. In fact,
God for his sin. What
most of us spend
become with someone
like Nathan in his life? A
more relevant question
is, what will you become
assessing the damages from the night before
without a Nathan in your
and making the necessary repairs. According
to an article I once saw in Newsweek, a typical
Take it from Solomon:
man’s lifetime will include a total of seven
“Two are better than
years in the bathroom.9 Much of that time will
one, because they have
be spent looking in the mirror as we make
a good return for their work: If one falls down,
increasingly futile attempts at damage control.
his friend can help him up. But pity the man
Ladies, you should probably add about
who falls and has no one to help him up” (Ecc
three years to that amount, rounding it up
4:9-10). The man speaks from experience. If
to an even decade—and even that may be
Solomon—the wisest man (besides our Lord)
on the low side. Trust me. With all possible
who ever lived— needed accountability, then
respect for my wife and three daughters, I
each of us does as well.
have irrefutable evidence. There was a time in
Is there someone who can (and does)
my life, when my daughters were young, that I
could initiate spontaneous family activities at
explanation of your actions when appropriate?
any time. Now, we can hardly go out for ice
This is what we want to work toward in our
cream without everyone first getting a perm!
small groups. Like Wesley’s Band Societies
(I’m glad my girls appreciate my sense of
(see “These Guys Meant Business!” on page
humor. No father could be prouder of their
7), we want our small-group meetings to fulfill
passion for God.)
Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron so one
Wouldn’t you be just a little concerned if you knew someone who got up each day, looked
man sharpens another.”
in the mirror, and walked away without making MIRROR,
any adjustments? How long would that person be presentable to others? How long would you
wait before you offered him a comb? It’s an
absurd scenario…or is it? According to James,
to exchange our opinions; we gather to learn
this is exactly what happens every time we
God’s truth. The first step is to understand what
encounter Scripture (the mirror) and then
the author’s original intent was when he wrote
walk away without making any changes.
to his original audience. Only then
The person who routinely looks in the
can we begin to apply that truth to
mirror without making alterations does not
our lives, allowing God’s Word to
understand the purpose of the mirror. Likewise,
rule over us and change us for the
the person who reads or listens to God’s Word
glory of God. (For information on a
without applying what he has heard obviously
great book that details how to study
doesn’t understand the purpose of Scripture.
Scripture, see the Recommended Reading list
Simply reading your Bible
at the end of this chapter.) As your small group looks into the mirror
of God’s Word, you should be making
adjustments. Each year you should be able to
look back and identify distinct areas in which
you have changed during the previous twelve
won’t make you like Jesus. Though each of
months. This is the difference small-group
these disciplines is essential for the Christian
participation is to make in our lives. This and
life and each is a vital means of grace, neither
is sufficient in itself. In fact, biblical knowledge is potentially deceptive if obedience doesn’t
CALLED TO MUTUAL CARE
take place. The purpose of the mirror is to
In the church where I serve, we call our small
provoke adjustment. The purpose of Scripture
groups “care groups.” It’s not a unique title,
is to provoke obedience and produce definitive
but it expresses a second primary purpose
change in our lives.
of small groups. Just as the first is to create
Those who merely listen to the word, Sunday
a context where every member can pursue
after Sunday, but fail to apply the word to their
sanctification, the second is to create a
lives, will experience an increasing degree
context where every member can give and
of self-deception rather than progressive
receive care. This principle comes straight out
sanctification. And yet isn’t it interesting
that they deceive only themselves? Everyone
God has combined the members of the body
else knows full well that they are merely
and has given greater honor to the parts that
listening and not obeying, not maturing. It’s
lacked it, so that there should be no division in
as obvious to them as it would be if we woke
the body, but that its parts should have equal
up tomorrow morning, glanced in the mirror,
concern for each other. If one part suffers,
and then walked
every part suffers with it; if one part is honored,
every part rejoices with it. (1 Cor 12:24-26)
Christians have always been
the comb, the
characterized by their sacrificial
love for each other. We are
the toothbrush. So what does
commanded to care for each other
this have to do
favoritism. “Carry each other’s
with this book?
burdens,” Paul writes, “and in
this way you will fulfill the law of
are not primarily intended
Christ” (Gal 6:2). In a Sunday-morning meeting,
teaching and preaching; those functions are
there are obvious limitations on our ability to
the responsibility of your pastor. Rather, small
express this kind of care. If I’m in the middle of
groups are designed for application. They
a message and notice someone start to cry in
create a context where Christians can apply
the seventh row back, I can’t stop preaching
God’s truth in a personal, practical way. In
and go minister to that individual. I’d like to, but
order to apply God’s Word effectively, though,
it wouldn’t serve the entire church. In a small-
we must first interpret it accurately.
group context, though, we are not so limited.
Some groups think “Bible study” means swapping
preferences. That’s bogus. We don’t gather
Here we can both give and receive specific, personal care. No one need be overlooked or neglected.
It is important to point out that mutual care
with my friends. This can be a healthy part of
and close relationships are not dependent
small-group life…but it isn’t fellowship. And
on the size of a church. Many assume it’s
you don’t have fellowship talking about the
impossible to form close relationships in
latest opinion from Rush Limbaugh or Jesse
a large church. They also assume that in a
Jackson, either. Social activities can’t be
small church, close relationships will develop automatically. Both assumptions are false. Relationships can flourish in a large church… and be absent in a small one. The
relationships does not depend on a church’s size. Rather, it depends on the doctrinal understanding and practice of the people who make up that church. Relationships will flourish in any church, no matter what size, where they are stressed as a biblical necessity. First-time visitors at my church are often intimidated by its size. I can understand how they might feel that way. But as I tell them, “The longer you are involved here, the smaller
equated or confused with fellowship. They are
this church becomes.” It’s a fact. A large
distinctly different. Nothing compares to the
church does not need to sacrifice quality
fellowship we enjoy when we worship together,
relationships—but it does need to provide the
study and apply Scripture together, encourage
small groups and service opportunities that
and correct each other, and communicate to
make mutual care a reality.
one another our current experience of God. Nothing. Social activities can create a context
FELLOWSHIP REDEFINED Why small groups? A third reason is
for fellowship, but they are a place to begin— not a place to remain.
fellowship. Many small groups use this word
When I spend an extended time with another
without understanding what it really means.
Christian, my main desire is that we know
As a result, they aren’t experiencing one of the
fellowship. I want to hear of his relationship
most vital things a group has to offer. You’ll
with God, and how God is revealing himself
look at fellowship in depth in the next chapter,
to him. I want to communicate my current
so I’ll try to limit myself to just a few comments
experience of God as well, and impart a fresh
on this critical topic.
passion for God.
Fellowship means to participate together,
Is that your desire? If someone spent an
or to communicate things we
afternoon with you, would he or she leave with
hold in common. The greatest
a fresh understanding of and passion for God?
common denominator between
If not, you need to change.
us as Christians is our relationship
with God the Father, through God
mind, consider your small group. Are you
the Son, by God the Holy Spirit.
experiencing fellowship? How much time do
This forms the content of true
you spend in the meetings talking about your
fellowship. Our relationship with God should
current relationship with God? When you meet
be the main topic of communication within
together outside the meetings, how often do
our small groups as we participate together to
your conversations revolve around God’s work
fulfill his purpose in the local church.
in your life? If you are relaxing together more
There’s a catch, however. The depth of our
than you’re relating together spiritually, you’re
personal relationship with God determines the
not enjoying true biblical fellowship—and you
degree of fellowship possible with each other.
have something to look forward to.
Thus, in order to know true fellowship, one must maintain a passionate relationship with
and experience of God. Perhaps that is why
GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
biblical fellowship is so rare.
God has given spiritual gifts to every
Fellowship is not just another word for
Christian (1 Cor 12:1-7). He fully expects us to
social activities. I really enjoy watching the
use them. But in a church of any size at all,
Washington Redskins or Baltimore Orioles
it’s simply not feasible for every member to
use these gifts on a Sunday morning. They can
bringing something to the party!
in a small group, though. In this smaller and
Let me give a few suggestions from my
more personal context, each one can serve
own experience and study of Scripture. First,
according to the gifting of the Holy Spirit. This
in order to experience and express the gifts
is the fourth and final reason why small groups
of the Spirit, we must develop the habit of
communing with the Holy Spirit. Paul ends
Some Christians define the Spirit’s work
his second letter to the Corinthian church
in very narrow terms, causing a good bit of
by saying, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus
Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship
Gordon Fee, who recently completed a major
of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor 13:14).
study of Paul’s writings on the Holy Spirit, calls
Is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit as much a
approach. close to
reality for you as the love of the Father and the grace of Christ? Second, we need to avoid grieving the Holy Spirit. I like what Jerry Bridges says on this topic:
It is very instructive that it is
in the context of interpersonal
relationships that Paul wrote his
warning, “And do not grieve the
Holy Spirit of God” (Eph 4:30).
Now, all sin grieves God, and Paul
could have inserted that warning in the context
of sexual immorality (Eph 5:3-5) or lying and
stealing (Eph 4:25, 28). But he places it in the
context of sins we commit with hardly any sense
of shame or guilt. The message should be clear.
the Spirit’s power
God is grieved over our “refined” sins just as He
in the broadest
is grieved over sexual immorality or dishonesty.
I am not suggesting that being irritable at one’s
spouse is as serious as something like adultery.
I am saying that being irritable at one’s spouse
is sin, and that all sin grieves God and should
ex t ra o rd i n a r y, but it is easy to get preoccupied with this. Our
grieve us.13 When we sin, we must respond quickly to
small groups need to become familiar with the
varied and distinct works of the Holy Spirit.
of the Spirit; otherwise we
Through a combination of study, experience,
will grieve him and break
and practice, we should seek to understand
fellowship with him.
the Spirit’s power in “the broadest possible
Third, we need to avoid quenching the Holy Spirit. In
way.” I recommend beginning with a thorough
this case, the best defense
study of Scripture concerning the person
is a good offense. Are you
and work of the Holy Spirit. This will include
stirring up the gifts God
seeking to define, identify, and cultivate the
has placed in you? When he
various gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians
prompts you to use them to
12:8-10,28; Ephesians 4:11; Romans 12:6-8; and
serve others, are you obeying
1 Peter 4:11. I would also recommend that you
right away? If not, you’re
set the same goal for your group that Scripture
quenching the Spirit.
sets: reaching the point where each member is
able to serve others and glorify God with the
unique which been
demands a fresh visitation
by the Spirit of God. Apart
from his presence, there’s no point in meeting.
Each of us has a responsibility to seek the
Holy Spirit and be sensitive to what he wants
to accomplish in the group as we gather
together. Wayne Grudem writes,
We must recognize that these activities of
4. Why is the Christian life “inescapably
the Holy Spirit are not to be taken for granted,
and they do not just happen automatically
5. What role do other Christians play in our
among God’s people. Rather, the Holy Spirit
reflects the pleasure or displeasure of God
6. Do you have a Nathan—someone to whom
with the faith and obedience—or unbelief
you are accountable?
and disobedience—of God’s people…The Holy
7. Share your answer to Question 2 on page 9.
Spirit gives stronger or weaker evidence of the
8. Why might some people hesitate to share
presence and blessing of God, according to
personal needs with their group?
our response to him.14
9. Is your group experiencing consistent
What is your response to him on a daily
basis? During the small-group meeting? To
10. Is there anything you can do personally to
a degree, that response will determine the
increase the Holy Spirit’s power and presence
forcefulness of his presence in your midst. Let
in your small-group meetings?
us purpose to avoid grieving or quenching the Spirit so that we can experience the full
strength of his presence and pleasure. Fourth, we should arrive at our small-group meetings expecting the Spirit
The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1994)
to be powerfully present. This is essential. What a difference
Let the Reader Understand: A Guide to
expectation can make as we
Interpreting and Applying the Bible by Dan
begin our small-group meetings!
McCartney and Charles Clayton (Wheaton, IL:
It can be the difference between
Victor Books, 1994)
a life-changing encounter with God and a superficial time together with no immediate
How Can I Change? by C.J. Mahaney and
or eternal benefit.
Robin Boisvert (Gaithersburg, MD: Sovereign
This is why we are committed to small
Grace Ministries, 1993)
groups. By his grace, together we are being changed into the image of Jesus Christ through progressive sanctification. Together we are experiencing mutual care, genuine fellowship, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
NOTES 1. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “A Scandal in Bohemia” in The Complete Sherlock Holmes (New York: Doubleday, 1927). 2. J.I. Packer, God’s Words (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1981), p. 193.
We no longer just see—we observe. We no
3. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), p. 746.
longer simply attend—we participate. We
4. Ibid., p. 723.
no longer selfishly consume—instead we are
5. Sinclair Ferguson, The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1989), pp. 82-83.
carrying out God’s purpose for our lives as we contribute to the building of the local church. And you thought it was for the refreshments!
6. Bruce Milne, Know the Truth (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press,1982), p. 194. 7. R.C. Sproul, The Soul’s Quest for God (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992), p. 151. 8. Quoted by Ralph W. Neighbour, Jr., in Where Do We Go from Here? A Guidebook for Cell Group Churches (Houston, TX: Touch Publications, 1990), pp. 166-67.
GROUP DISCUSSION 1. How observant are you? Without looking, try to answer the following questions:
9. Newsweek, March 26, 1990. 10. Peter H. Davids, New International Bible Commentary: James (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1989), p. 41.
• Does this room have an overhead fan?
11. Gordon Fee, God’s Empowering Presence (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1994), p. 8.
• What is the main image on the front of this
12. Richard F. Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1979), p. 131.
book? • How much money is in your wallet or
14. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 635.
purse? • What is the brand name of the shoes you have on? • What color are the socks/nylons of the person sitting to your left? 2. According to the author, what four goals should each small group share? 3. In simple terms, how would you describe the
13. Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1994), p. 35.
15. J. Rodman Williams, Renewal Theology: Salvation, the Holy Spirit, and Christian Living (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990), p. 305.
Taken with permission from the book: Why Small Groups? © 1996 Sovereign Grace Ministries. All rights reserved.
redeemer kids corner
THE FIRST FAMILY
GENESIS 1:26-27 26Then
God said, â€œLet us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.â€?
God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
THE CHURCH IN ECUADOR
BY: BILL WALSH
don’t speak Spanish and couldn’t tell
together studying the scriptures alongside
what the conversation was about,
two-dozen pastors from the provinces around
but I knew that there was a bit of a
debate happening. I whispered to a
“What’s happening?” I soon learned that
training these indigenous Ecuadorean pastors
the Ecuadorean pastors in the room were
and church leaders who have very little access
questioning the premise being taught by one
to pastoral education. We teamed up with a
of our youngest teachers, who currently had
half dozen teachers, alongside several Spanish
the floor. The topic was sin, and some of the
translators. Gabe and Rebekah Zepeda and
pastors in the room were arguing that true
Rachel Sweet spent the week engaged in VBS
Christian pastors generally don’t sin. We were
with kids in various villages, while Fritz Jordan
assisted local workmen in construction of a
The discussion over the next couple of days centered on correcting that thinking by laying out the doctrine of progressive sanctification;
MOMENTUM // SEPTEMBER 2013
John Sweet and I had the privilege of teaching
nearby team member who knew Spanish,
future training center. Dr. Sills shares how we experienced a significant number of trials during the week.
how Christ takes sinners like us and, over a
It was also an extremely difficult week with
lifetime, makes us more and more like Him. Of
regard to the opposition from the evil one. A
course, there are plenty of Christians in the
bag that went missing finally arrived in our
West who have unbiblical views on this topic.
possession, but without the laptop and various
But the situation highlighted why training
other possessions that the team member had
for pastors is so needed around the world,
packed. Five team members became ill during
particularly for those who have little access to
the week with altitude sickness, traveler’s
sound theological resources.
stomach issues, or a combination of both.
In July, a small team from Redeemer had the
Three vehicles had problems with overheating
great privilege of traveling to Ecuador. There
that resulted in them breaking down at the
teams from several U.S. churches joined Dr.
most inopportune times. One missionary
David Sills from Reaching & Teaching Ministries
suffered a head-on collision and totaled out
in their long-term efforts to strengthen the
his vehicle. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but
church in the Quichua regions of South
it was clear that the enemy was fighting hard
America. We spent a tremendous week
At one time, Ecuador had Latin America’s
access to solid theological books is extremely limited. Few of
lowest percentage of evangelicals. In recent
the men pastoring these churches have ever been discipled.
decades however, there has been a dramatic
They’ve rarely been taught the Bible, apart from R&T’s
percentage of believers in the country now
This trip brought together so many elements of collaboration:
stands at 8.5%, mostly focused in Quito and
U.S. church teams, a ministry engaged in overseas theological
other growing cities, with a high concentration
training, long-term missionaries laboring in the field, and
amongst the Quichua peoples. This growth
indigenous church leaders there in the Tambo region. We were
has also made a dent in the influence of the
humbled as we saw the commitment of these Ecuadorean
pastors to pursuing this time of training in order to better serve
Reaching & Teaching (R&T) has a long-term
commitment to this region. In collaboration
It was a privilege to be part of this short-term team
with community leaders, they are nearing
representing RBC. Our church has a long history of supporting
completion on a pastoral training center and
missions mainly through our giving as a congregation. Having
ministry base in Tambo, an area with more
traveled with Bob and Gayle Glenn to South America more
than 330 isolated communities and only 32
than a year ago, I have seen the heart for cross-cultural ministry
churches. This is a region where believers are
that resides in our leadership. We pray that God will continue
often quite isolated from each other and many
to build this vision into the DNA of Redeemer, calling us to go
are persecuted for their faith.
further up and further in through short and long-term missions
These church leaders epitomize those whom
engagement and support.
we sense a burden to serve across Asia, Africa
Pray with us that God will bring fruit from our time there for
and South America. A very small percentage
the sake of His glory, by the grace of Christ being displayed
will ever be able to attend seminary, and their
through his church in Ecuador. //RBC
19 MOMENTUM // SEPTEMBER 2013
Photos taken by ClearlySeen.org // © Bill Walsh
highlights from the blog
REDEEMER COMMUNITY GROUPS
THE MEAT OF FELLOWSHIP
BY: DANIELLE LAKES
bout once a month this summer,
is through weekly fellowship with other believers. Lifting each
I’ve had the chance to meet with
other to the Lord, sharing our struggles and our triumphs as we
the people in my Community Group
walk with Him, learning what He is capable of through the real
lives of real people – if you’re hungry to know Jesus more, this
a backyard barbecue or a few games at the
MOMENTUM // SEPTEMBER 2013
is where the meat is.
local park. We spend time catching up on each
We’ve spent a little less than a year with these people, and
other’s lives and simply enjoying one another’s
already we’ve come to care for them so much, just as they’ve
company. When I look at the calendar in
come to care for us. With all of our differences and quirks, we
my office marked with events, holidays and
share a commonality: We’re all broken. And we all know the
deadlines, I realize that seeing these people is
grace of the One who heals us. There’s nothing quite like being
usually one of the best days of my month.
able to share in the joy of that knowledge together.
My husband and I have attended the same
Community Groups start meeting weekly again this fall and
Community Group since last fall. In the
several different locations and times are available. If you’re
beginning, we were a bit nervous to sit around
looking for fellowship at Redeemer and further growth in the
with a bunch of people we hardly knew and
Lord, I highly recommend checking out and going to one. Who
discuss a book or a recent sermon. But the
knows – this time next year, you too may get just as excited
Lord calls Christians to fellowship with one
about the one day each summer month you get to meet up
another, and we knew how important this
with the people you’ve come to love in your own Community
commandment was. We’ve both had some
of the greatest encouragements, the most significant times of prayer and the most insightful understandings about who the Lord
WELCOME TO THE FAMILY Lindsay Brandenburg
David & Danae Torres
Jesse & Katie Trebesch
Bill & Cindi Walsh
Stan & Joyce Passananti
NEXT MEMBERSHIP CLASS: OCTOBER 10TH LEARN ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF MEMBERSHIP AT OUR NEXT CLASS. RSVP WITH LAURIE SUMMERS AT LSUMMERS@REDEEMERBIBLECHURCH.COM OR 952.935.2425.
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RESPONSIBILITIES: 1. Must
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HOURS PER WEEK: 1 hour
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help in following up with
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MOMENTUM // SEPTEMBER 2013
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WANT TO HELP? CONTACT KIRSTEN!
BY THE NUMBERS
JULY: YEAR TO DATE
GENERAL GIVING FUND Operating Expenses Mortgage Giving Forecast
$ 764,300 $ 90,129 $ 828,679 $ 719,767
EXPANDING OUR GOSPEL VISION
Extra Commitments $ 41,427 Awaiting Commitments $ 293,477 | 13.5% Commitments Received $ 1,885,523 | 86.5%
MOMENTUM // SEPTEMBER 2013
DATES TO REMEMBER
CURRICULM OVERVIEW NIGHT 6:15 - 6:55 PM | Fellowship Hall REDEMPTION | Youth Group 6:45 PM WEDNESDAY WORSHIP | 7 PM
WOMEN’S BOOK STUDY 7 PM - 8:30 PM
CURRICULM OVERVIEW NIGHT 6:15 - 6:55 PM | Fellowship Hall
WOMEN’S BOOK STUDY 7 PM - 8:30 PM
WOMEN’S BOOK STUDY 7 PM - 8:30 PM
WOMEN’S BOOK STUDY 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM
WOMEN’S NIGHT 7 PM - 8:30 PM
REDEMPTION | Youth Group 6:45 PM WEDNESDAY WORSHIP | 7 PM KIDS CHOIR | 7 - 8:30 PM
REDEMPTION | Youth Group 6:45 PM
REDEMPTION | Youth Group 6:45 PM
REDEMPTION | Youth Group 6:45 PM WEDNESDAY WORSHIP | 7 PM
WOMEN’S BOOK STUDY 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM
KIDS CHOIR | 7 - 8:30 PM
WEDNESDAY WORSHIP | 7 PM
WOMEN’S BOOK STUDY 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM
WEDNESDAY WORSHIP | 7 PM
WOMEN’S BOOK STUDY 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM
September EVENT CALENDAR 1 MORNING WORSHIP | 10 AM
8 MORNING WORSHIP | 9 & 11 AM REDEMPTION | Youth SS 9 AM NEWCOMERS LUNCH 1:00 - 2:30 PM | RM 106 EVENING WORSHIP | 6:00 PM SGF CLASSES BEGIN
15 MORNING WORSHIP | 9 & 11 AM REDEMPTION | Youth SS 9 AM ECUADOR/AFRICA EVENT 1:00 - 2:30 PM | Fellowship Hall
22 MORNING WORSHIP | 9 & 11 AM (Including the Lord’s Table) REDEMPTION | Youth SS 9 AM
29 MORNING WORSHIP | 9 & 11 AM REDEMPTION | Youth SS 9 AM
FEATURED EVENTS Wednesday SEPT. 6 & 11TH
Sunday SEPTEMBER 8TH
Sunday SEPTEMBER 15TH
Thursday SEPTEMBER 19TH
CURRICULM OVERVIEW NIGHT
6:15 PM - 6:55 PM |
1 PM – 2:30 PM | RM 106 //
1 PM - 2:30 PM | Fellowship
WOMEN’S NIGHT: STUDY THROUGH MODESTY
Fellowship Hall // Parents
If you would like to attend
Hall // Want to learn more
are invited to preview our new curriculum, The Gospel Project. It is a 3 year chronological study through the whole Bible, each lesson focusing on the “meta-narrative” of creation-fall-redemption.
the next Newcomer’s Lunch,
about what Redeemer’s
please RSVP with Laurie
Mission Ministry is doing?
Summers at lsummers@
Join us for a recap of the
Ecuador Mission Trip,
including testimonies and a slideshow, and to hear what’s happening with Mike & Helen Wicker’s ministry in Africa. A light luncheon will be provided. RSVP to the Church Office by Wednesday, September 11th at 952.935.2425 or info@
A:: 16205 HIGHWAY 7 | MINNETONKA, MINNESOTA 55345 P:: 952.935.2425 E:: INFO@REDEEMERBIBLECHURCH.COM W:: REDEEMERBIBLECHURCH.COM
7 PM - 8:30 PM | Fellowship Hall // Ladies, join us on the third Thursday of each month as we read through “Modesty” by our RW Glenn. It is sure to be a wonderful time to fellowship with ladies from both the Tuesday morning and the Thursday evening book studies. Questions? Carol Burr at email@example.com.