Let all things be done for building up 1 Corinthians 14:26-27
New City Church exists to help people know, love and follow Jesus. We do this in two, very intentional ways. We gather on Sundays to worship Jesus. This is a time where we sing songs together and receive God’s word and we fellowship together and we are informed, inspired and equipped by the gospel. Gathering on Sundays is a big deal. People meet Jesus on Sundays. Lives are transformed on Sundays. We help people know, love and follow Jesus on Sundays.
How we do church is not less than gathering together but it is certainly more. New City also scatters throughout the week in small-to-midsize groups to advance the gospel as we love, serve and bless each other and our city.
So, how is a City Group any different than a small group bible study? Let me offer three ways:
1) Have Sensible Conversations. In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul says “let all things be done for building up.” Building up who? In the preceding verses Paul warns the church that if they are speaking in “tongues” that it confuses visitors and non-believers and is an obstacle to the gospel. A value at New City is that we want to be inviting in all we do. This includes how we speak in our City Groups.
In your speech, be sensible not ostentatious. Don’t patronize people by “dumbing it down”, but don’t assume everyone in the room knows & understands what you mean when you say sanctification or when you talk about a nuanced theological tidbit you learned when you read your favorite blog this morning. Be sensible.
2) Love people over ideas. We are a Bible believing, gospel preaching, deeply theological church. We believe the bible is God’s word and has transforming power as it reveals God and his gospel (2 Tim 3:16-17). We want you to study it, memorize it, apply it and stay close to the book. Its not enough to come on Sundays and take the preacher’s word for it. You must read, pray and meditate on your own and in your City Groups. We want to encourage deep bible study in our City Groups. But….but if we get “puffed up” (1 Cor 8:1) on knowledge with no real life application of the gospel, what good is that? How is helping people know, love and follow Jesus? How does it help you know, love and follow Jesus?
Rather, a City Group is not less than a bible study but more. Always seeking to apply the gospel to our hearts and minds. We “take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor 10:5) We want to grow in obedience to the word, not just knowledge of it. How are you seeking to apply with each other?
3) A People with a Purpose. We are to be a blessing to the nations (psalm 96) not merely to each other. A City Group’s purpose is not merely to study the bible and grow in community, but to love and serve and bless the city. We want to intentionally be a people FOR the city. I believe God has uniquely equipped, resourced and inspired each City Group to make a gospel impact in some unique way in our city. A God ordained confluence of passions and callings and sensitivity to specific needs is right in your group.
A City Group is formed around a shared mission. It doesn’t mean that everyone in the group is passionate about the same thing, but the group has decided upon and clearly communicated how they will love, serve and bless the city. And the CG mobilizes to make it happen.
If your group doesn’t have a shared mission you should pray together. Study together and ask God to make it clear where and how he would have you love, serve and bless the City. I suggest you narrow your mission to one of three possible areas: a) a relational network of people, i.e students at school, etc. b) a specific need, i.e serving at a soup kitchen, or c) a neighborhood, i.e Blackhawk or Shadowlake. A shared mission is not a “one off” project, but a way that your City Group is committed to being a gospel witness to our city.
In all of this our hope is that we have an opportunity to make much of Jesus. In our invitation, in our language, in our serving and in our very lives, may we be a people who don’t just study the bible, we apply it.