GIVE & TAKE
These are my notes for teaching at the Cornerstone Church on Sunday, September 13, 2020.
This is part 2 of a teaching series called Better Together and we're exploring how to build great small groups.
INTRODUCTION: OUR CAMPING SYSTEM
Kim and I love camping. And we've been doing it for so long that we've got it down to a system that works. A big part of that system is having some jobs we do together and some jobs we do not do together.
Kim books the campsite.
I create the menu and pack the food.
I pack the car.
Kim chooses where the tent will go.
I unpack the car.
Kim sets up the tent.
You get the picture. As long as we stick to the system, we stay friends.
In a similar way, God has set up his church to work according to a system. When we stick to it, the church works according to God's plan and the result is a great church. I call it the "unity in diversity" system. We are lots of different people - personalities, backgrounds, passions, abilities, and giftings - but we all work together for God and each other.
The unity in diversity system is described in 1 Corinthians 12. Before reading any more of this teaching, why not take a few minutes to read 1 Corinthians 12.
Small groups operate according to the same unity in diversity system since they are small churches. There are three essentials of the system that you can apply to your small group to make it a great group.
1 CORINTHIANS 12: ESSENTIALS OF THE IDEAL CHURCH SYSTEM
ESSENTIAL ONE: FOCUS ON JESUS- verses 1-3.
Ancient Corinth was full of people from all over the world and they brought their cultures and religions with them. And some of the new converts to Christianity brought their pagan ideas about spiritual worship into the church meetings. They worked themselves into an ecstatic, trance-like, out of control, frenzy and said stupid things like Jesus be cursed and thought they were being very spirit-filled.
Paul steps in to tell them, no, no, no! The true manifestation of Holy Spirit filling is our confession that Jesus is Lord. We're saying that Jesus is fully in focus, he's the main thing, he's what we're here for.
The truest sign of the Spirit's presence in our small groups is when we make him the focus of our meetings. That's when Jesus will be powerfully present with you. Paul talks about this earlier in the letter, though in a slightly different context:
(1 Corinthians 5:4) So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present ...
In your small group, keep Jesus in focus. Don't allow him to take a back seat. Don't let the social aspects or the food or the Bible study take precedence over the supernatural power of Jesus in the group. Instead, ask Jesus to manifest his presence in the group as you serve, encourage, bless, and teach one another in his Name.
ESSENTIAL TWO: WELCOME UNITY AND DIVERSITY - verses 4-26.
Most of chapter 12 is focused on how there can be unity in the church when we're all different. The argument flows like this:
There is one God, but he distributes diverse gifts - verses 4-11.
(1 Corinthians 12:11) All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
The church is one body, but it has diverse parts - verses 12-26.
(1 Corinthians 12:12) Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with (the body of) Christ.
Each part is placed in the church by God.
(1 Corinthians 12:13) For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
(1 Corinthians 12:18) But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
When you're together with your small group, do you ever look around the members and suddenly trail mix comes to mind? You think, "My group's full of fruits and nuts. I'm the only normal one here."
God's plan is for all kinds of "different" people to live in unity in the church and in your small group. I think God must love buffets because he loves variety.
You all know that I played rugby in my much younger days. Rugby teams need a wide diversity of players; one size does not fit all. Every rugby team needs three short, beefy, players to get down and push in the scrum. Every team needs a couple of tall guys to win the ball in a line-out. Then, the team needs the tactician to call the plays and some skinny fast guys to run the ball over the line. You get the picture. What would happen if everyone on the team was short and beefy?
It's the same in your small group. You don't want everyone to be the same. Welcome the diversity of your small group because that's going to improve the effectiveness of your meetings. Thank God that you're all "different" because he will use all those different personalities, skills, and giftings to build and bless the members of your group in all kinds of different ways.
ESSENTIAL THREE: GIVE AND TAKE, verses 27-30.
In verses 27-30, Paul doubles down on the idea that our groups need all these different people because we all have something to contribute:
(1 Corinthians 12:27) Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
We don't all have the same skills, interests, abilities, or giftings, but we are all needed. That's how God designed his church.
Have you ever been to a swap meet. I guess there's all kinds of these; for example, clothing swap meets and home school curriculum swap meets and tech swap meets. You give what you don't need and swap it for stuff you do need.
Your small group is like a swap meet. It's all about the give and take. You give what you have and you take what you need. For example:
Julie shares her gift to study and teach the Bible and she "takes" some of Ron's chili.
Frank shares his gift of generosity and he "takes" Helen's prayers for healing.
Alex shares her gift of prophecy and she "takes" Bob's gift of fixing leaky faucets.
And on and on. Give and take is how Jesus builds his church. Go to your group prepared to use your unique combination of personality, background, and gifting to help someone. Also, go to group expecting to be ministered to.
CONCLUSION: A SMALL GROUP NEEDS YOU
Years ago, our boys were part of the Blue Water Swim Club. Everyone was expected to not only pay their club dues but also to work a certain number of hours a month for the club. Kim joined the board. I was a timer at swim meets. No one was excused, everyone worked. That's how clubs survive.
And that's how churches thrive; when everyone works together according to their ability. No one sits on the sidelines. Showing up at Sunday services is a good first step, but joining a small group is an essential next step.
There is a small group in our church that needs you. They need your friendship and they need your give and take. And you need them. If you're not in a small group, you're missing out on so much that God wants to give you through his people.
Join a small group today. Talk to Joey Linert for help finding one.