Before March of 2020, some of you might have been familiar with a phrase like this:
“_________________ is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.”
For the rest of us, this has taken some getting used to! All of a sudden it felt like we were in the future, talking on screens to friends and family and co-workers, at times feeling like our lives had suddenly turned into the opening credits of The Brady Bunch. The irony here is that those of you who can picture the opening credits of The Brady Bunch are probably the same people who have struggled with Zoom meetings.
Maybe the first things you think of that involve invitations are birthdays, weddings, dinner parties, etc. We invite people to events and send little cards as reminders. It’s right around Easter time as I type this, and Easter is normally a time when church folk are more likely to invite someone who doesn’t know Jesus yet to a church worship gathering. People who don’t normally attend church worship gatherings are much more likely to say yes to an invitation around Christmas or Easter, right? Inviting someone to an event is a very normal part of our lives, and of the 40x that the word “invite” appears in the ESV Bible, every use of it means that someone is being asked to join or participate in something. However…
When writing a letter to the church of the Thessalonians, Paul described an invitation as something radically different.
“So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” - 1 Thes. 2:8
He believed that a life transformed by the redemptive work of Jesus, like the transformation he had experienced personally, would result in so much more than just an invitation to an event. It would result in an invitation into relationship. Into family. Into the normal things that make up our lives, like sharing meals and doing projects around the home and cheering for kids sports or music events and being frustrated by the Philadelphia Eagles inability to draft well. The reason why the church grew so dramatically in the book of Acts could possibly be summarized this succinctly:
- Jesus left his disciples and told them his Holy Spirit would come and give them power to be his witnesses (Acts 1:8)
- The church, filled with the Holy Spirit, was unified in their love for Jesus and for each other (Acts 2:42-46)
- People who didn’t know Jesus yet were able to participate in this way of life with the church and were ultimately drawn to the saving work of Jesus (Acts 2:47)
This is why I’m such a big fan of Life Groups! A healthy Life Group is more than just a regular event that occurs in someone’s home. In his book Community, Brad House says:
“Community is for us a declaration of the overwhelming love of God, a tangible proclamation of the reconciling work of the cross. This is a truly compelling reason to build community groups within our churches. This is the bigger purpose that can inspire real community. Community groups are a living illustration of the gospel and its power to save. The world needs this, and so does your church.” (Community, pg. 34)
If you and I believe that this is the “why”, the primary reason why we even have Life Groups, it will greatly affect the “how”. How we do them depends on why we do them. Do you believe that God has done (and is continuing to do) an incredible work of redemption in your life? Do you believe that this will have an impact on those who you share life experiences with? There will be things that a Life Group does that might seem a bit strange or uncomfortable to someone who doesn’t know Jesus yet, but there will also be an awful lot of opportunities for these same people to participate in the normal stuff of life with the church. In fact, when someone already does a lot of normal life things with you, an invitation to a church worship gathering might make a lot more sense...even if it’s not Easter.
If you want to learn more about Life Groups with FBC, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.