Connecting with God
a Small Group Experience
Connecting in Community
January 13, 2021
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never even thought of community as a spiritual practice. How does hanging out with other people grow your relationship with God? Well, Jesus left his followers with one command: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34–35 We express our love for and gratitude to God by loving other people. It’s a way of acknowledging that all people are created in God’s image and he values each and every one of us. So, living in authentic community with other believers is a core spiritual practice because our relationships with others is where our faith meets the real world. Authentic community is where others help us to grow as we help them. It’s where we can experience: Accountability It often takes someone else pointing out the gap between where we are and where we could be in order for us to catch a vision for our possible futures. Belonging When people feel a sense of belonging in the community, it motivates them toward progress—not because they feel judged, but because they know the group has their best interests at heart. Care When life goes sideways we have an opportunity to grow in our trust of God, but only if we have a support system of people who can shift our perspectives and help to meet our emotional, spiritual, and even physical needs.
Connecting Through Prayer
January 20, 2021
WHY PRAY? If there’s one spiritual practice that is more important than all of the others, it’s prayer. It’s even fair to say that you can’t properly engage in any of the other practices without also engaging in prayer. You’ll find little value in fasting, worship, Sabbath, solitude, or even reading the Bible if you’re not doing those things in conjunction with prayer. Why is that? Prayer is our direct line of communication with God. It’s at the core of every believer’s relationship with him. A prayer life that is growing deeper and richer over time is a sign of growing spiritual maturity. That’s because prayer isn’t about using God as a cosmic vending machine—trying to convince him to sign on to our agendas or give us the material comforts we want. It’s about creating an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual connection with your heavenly Father, so that you can better know and trust his will.
Connecting Through Bible Reading
January 27, 2021
WHY READING THE BIBLE MATTERS In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul gives us snapshot of what it looks like to grow in our relationship with God: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 Reading the Bible is a key part of “renewing our minds.” In Psalm 119:11, David wrote, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” When we read the Bible, its words have the power to change our perspective and our behavior. That’s why we’ve identified it as one of the core spiritual practices. Any Jesus follower with access to a Bible can do it. And every Jesus follower can benefit from it. Reading the Bible can help you: See God’s character. Even people with the deepest faith need to be reminded that God loves them and is engaged in their lives. Figure out the next step in your spiritual journey. The Scriptures provide a mix of practical teaching and stories about people that help us to see ourselves in God’s grand narrative and identify what steps we need to take next. Find hope and peace during difficult circumstances. Jesus promised each of us: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” No one gets to live a trouble-free life. When we face loss or tragedy, the Bible can be an anchor of hope to remind us of God’s presence in our lives.