We know that God wants us to live our Christian lives in relationships with other Christians. Meeting together on a Sunday morning is great and a necessary place to begin in the pursuit of those relationships. However, an hour together on Sunday morning will not allow us to fulfill the “one another” commands of the New Testament. A community group, then, is a regular, smaller gathering within the spiritual family of Lakewood.
It’s helpful to think of a spectrum, with the whole congregation at one end, 1-to-1 relationships on the other end, with small groups in the middle. Since the mission of Lakewood is “Growing People through God’s Word,” the Word of God is central in all three of these contexts, so that God’s people are constantly growing. Community Groups are not to be seen as a replacement for the assembling of the whole congregation, as our Sunday morning worship service is our context for singing to one another, observing the ordinances, and hearing biblical exposition. In a typical community group gathering, believers will do several things together:
(A) Discuss the biblical preaching that we heard in the Sunday worship service with an emphasis on life application, so that our church is made up of doers of the Word and not merely hearers (James 1:19-27). Not only will a discussion help us be better sermon listeners, but it will help us retain the biblical content that we have heard and for which we are now more accountable.
(B) Pray together in an effort to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2, cf. James 5:16) and to demonstrate church-wide dependence upon God (Philippians 4:4-7; 1 Peter 5:6-7). Not only will our prayer together accomplish much within God’s plan, but it will also function to knit our hearts together through both shared grief and mutual joy (Acts 12:1-19; 1 Corinthians 12:26).