7 Reasons Preaching Isn't Enough (Why Gospel Communities Are Important)
While preparing for a recent sermon on the words of Jesus in John chapter 5, I stumbled across an intro in a sermon given by pastor John Piper where he laid out "7 reasons we need small groups." Piper's thesis here is that simply taking-in preaching is not enough.
In a day of podcasts, vodcasts, and online church, we do well to consider the importance of belonging to a group of actual people striving to live out the gospel and not simply consuming sermons.
At 2 Pillars Church, we have built our church from the ground up based around this idea of Gospel Communities (GCs). A GC, as we define it, is a group of people who are living out the gospel, in community, and on mission. Nearly everything we do as a church happens in, through, and out of our GCs and anything we do in addition to GCs is carefully constructed to supplement (not supplant) our GCs.
With all of the above in mind, I found the following list by Piper of 7 reasons that "small groups" are needed to be helpful in thinking through the essentiality of belonging to a Gospel Community at 2 Pillars. Substitute the words "Gospel Community" for "small group" in the below, and you've got some strong reasons here for why it's important to live out the gospel in community.
- The impulse to avoid painful growth by disappearing safely into the crowd in corporate worship is very strong.
- The tendency toward passivity in listening to a sermon is part of our human weakness.
- Listeners in a big group can more easily evade redemptive crises. If tears well up in your eyes in a small group, wise friends will gently find out why. But in a large gathering, you can just walk away from it.
- Listeners in a large group tend to neglect efforts of personal application. The sermon may touch a nerve of conviction, but without someone to press in, it can easily be avoided.
- Opportunity for questions leading to growth is missing. Sermons are not dialogue. Nor should they be. But asking questions is a key to understanding and growth. Small groups are great occasions for this.
- Accountability for follow-through on good resolves is missing. But if someone knows what you intended to do, the resolve is stronger.
- Prayer support for a specific need or conviction or resolve goes wanting. O how many blessings we do not have because we are not surrounded by a band of friends who pray for us.