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Why Discipleship Groups are Essential to Your Growth in Christ

Why Discipleship Groups are Essential to Your Growth in Christ

If you were at Sojourn this past Sunday, you heard our pastor, Ernie, give a convincing exhortation about the importance of gathering with one or two trusted (same sex) friends as a discipleship group for the purpose of maturing in your walk with Christ. I wanted to take a few moments to highlight some of the key points as a reminder for those who were moved by this message and as a recap or for those who weren't there but desire this in your life. We want to give you vision and purpose for the importance of discipleship groups, so you are set to stay in it for the long haul. Here are some of the key reasons why we believe discipleship groups are essential to your growth in Christ:

1. We are called to be alert and sober-minded, not lazy and slothful. Hebrews 3:12 says, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil and unbelieving heart.” Paul was not saying this to unbelievers; he was saying this to his brothers - those who confess the faith! He is calling us to be on guard and to take action because he knows that we are naturally prone to laziness. Can we all testify to that? I know I can. The power of sin has been broken because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, yet the residue of sin remains. Therefore, we need to be intentional to guard ourselves against a sinful and unbelieving heart. How do we do this? The answer lies in the next verse…

2. “But exhort one another everyday, as long as it is called ‘today’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13) Queue discipleship groups! When we realize the urgency of the fact that sin is knocking at our door constantly, we will also feel the urgency to do war against it by surrounding ourselves with community that will exhort us and help keep us on the right track. Just as a parent will repeatedly teach and discipline a child to keep him from doing something that would harm him, discipleship groups are to be a protective covering that will keep us hedged in from ‘harming’ ourselves.

Now, I know these verses are intense, but sometimes we need some intensity to shake us and wake us up a bit. However, the goal is not merely to fight sin. The goal and what we are aiming for at Sojourn is Christ-centered community. We desire for each discipleship group to be an instrument of worship, a weapon against sin, and a source of life-giving transformation. We love gathering on Sundays and the way God has gifted Ernie to encourage us, but we believe the truest source of growth in our community will be through giving ourselves to discipleship groups.

Here is the layout of the method we desire to use in discipleship groups: Know your sin. Fight your sin. Love your Savior.

Know your Sin: We want you to discover what it is that entangles you. Have you taken time to acknowledge the sin that is holding you back or constantly causing you to stumble? Also, what is the motivation behind the sin, and what lie do you believe that is leading you to seek to fill that void?

Fight your Sin: To be a child of God is not only to rest in His love but also to please and resemble the Father. The battle against sin has already been won. The Spirit is here to help us overcome, so we fight our sin.

Love your Savior: We would never want to overemphasize the issue of fighting sin and miss the whole purpose of it, which is to love our Savior! God always calls us to surrender second-rate, fleeting, unsatisfying pleasures in order to obtain first-rate, eternal, satisfying pleasures.

To sum it up, the goal of discipleship groups and fighting sin is simple: to be HAPPY in God. Some of you may have had a bad experience with accountability groups, and that might be because this point wasn’t emphasized. Accountability is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end, which is to be joyful in God.

The most important prayer you can pray

The most important prayer you can pray

I am the type of guy that needs a game plan. When my wife wants me to go with her to Ikea, I have to know why we are going and what we are going to buy. Wandering around a glorified warehouse turned home-goods store without some sort of goal makes me feel like I’m living a nightmare. As a pastor of Sojourn church, I frequently consider where our trajectory is going. One of my ambitions is to intentionally and continuously set the trajectory of our church to be a community of people who truly worship Jesus.

One thing I have learned from living smack dab in the middle of the deep south is that Jesus is not unpopular. It’s not that Jesus is popular, but he is not unpopular either. What I mean is that in the “Bible Belt,” we think we “understand” Jesus. We carry the mentality that we have had enough of Jesus and we don’t need Him anymore. We don’t fully reject Jesus, but at the same time we don’t cherish, love, and worship Him.

Here is the dilemma I have realized in my own heart: the moment I begin to think that I have Jesus figured out is the moment I realize I never really knew Him to begin with. He was never meant to be a means to a greater end, as if I could use him to gain what I “really” want. I promise you that the life you long to live will only be realized when Jesus Christ becomes the end goal and driving purpose in your life. If we continue to view Christ as a piece on a chessboard we can move around for our own means, we will never know Him as we ought and never cherish, love, and worship Him as He deserves.
My prayer, for my own heart and for the churches throughout the Bible Belt, is for God to revive His church so Jesus would be supremely valued and treasured. My hope for the Church is that by the Spirit, the Risen King would become our primary obsession and the cry of our heart would resound with Paul’s in Philippians 3:7-8, “I count whatever was gain to me as loss because of the surpassing value that is found in knowing Jesus.”

If you desire to know Christ as Paul declared above, or even desire to have this desire, I challenge you to begin where Paul began by praying Ephesians 1:17-19. In this prayer Paul prays for the Church in Ephesus, asking the Father of glory to reveal Jesus by the Spirit and the Word so that they would know Jesus better. This is one of the most important prayers you can pray because there is no greater gift you could receive than the Spirit enabling you to grow in worshipful affection of Jesus. What was available for the Church in Ephesus then is available for our churches in the Bible Belt today. My prayer is that it would be so.