Hebrews is one of the most powerful presentations of the gospel ever written. It serves as a bridge between the Old Testament world of promise with its covenants, priests, and sacrifices – and the New Testament world of fulfillment where Jesus functions as the high priest of a new and greater covenant with God.
Hebrews declares that Jesus is our one mediator, whose once-for-all sacrifice paid for our sins and opened the way for us to be connected to God.
Like many of us, these Hebrews were second-generation Christians – they grew up in Christian homes with believing parents. So by this point they ought to be teachers of the truths of God’s Word, but their faith is still underdeveloped in many ways. By the time we jump in to chapter 10 the writer has begun an extended call to faithful living by these Hebrew believers.
Here’s what it says:
From now I as help form and shape small groups I am changing the expectations for them from the typical attend, listen, and leave to something a bit more vibrant and essential to answer the call from the writer of Hebrews and in response to this great Savior of ours.
In the last three verses of the section above I believe that the writer of Hebrews has provided us with three foundational elements for church life and for ideal small groups. (The two really can’t be separated.) It is my conviction that the most effective means of spiritual growth and development is through the participation with a small group of other people who are walking this journey of faith with you.
It does not trump the other ministries in the church but it is among the most essential. Which means that if you are not in a small group then you are missing out on one of the surest means of continued spiritual growth and development that your church offers.
First, the ideal small group is relational. It’s where people connect. vs 25
It’s kind of like the old Cheers tv show theme song where everyone knows you name. That’s where you want to go! It’s a group of people from whom you find some real friends – maybe not everyone in the group – but some of them anyway.
It’s a place where you spend enough time together talking about things that really matter – like your relationship with Jesus and what he has been teaching you lately – and you really get to know one another.
That’s pretty key – the “one another” part. The passage doesn’t say that you are to be encouraged by the pastor, or that you are to be motivated by the pastor. Look at your bible – it’s there in black and white – you are to be encouraged and motivated by one another. A mutually encouraging and motivating relationship where you are connected to each other out of a common bond of faith and friendship.
That’s why the writer admonishes us not to neglect our meeting together. Being together in a small group where you can encourage and motivate one another is the key to effective discipleship because it creates an environment where deep and lasting spiritual growth can take place.
As fantastic as corporate worship is and as essential as it is to sit under good, sound, biblical teaching week after week it just isn’t enough because this environment is not relational. It’s not designed to be.
If your involvement in church is limited to Sunday attendance you will never be connected in any meaningful way to the body of Christ because it is virtually impossible to mutually encourage each other. You will always feel on the outside looking in because that’s exactly where you will be. If you want to be connected to others in your church – join a small group.
There are two more elements to the ideal small group. Those will be described as the series continues.