Less is more.
A phrase I often heard growing up, and mostly disagreed with. That certainly doesn’t ring true when it comes to ice cream or Star Wars movies right? As a life-long information junkie I struggle with wanting to know more and more. We live in an age of information overload. And because of that reality, we can all face the temptation to do the same when it comes to knowing God.
For many of us we find ourselves filled with Biblical information but hunger to see greater transformation. We want to not just be hearers of the word but doers as well (Jas. 1). One of the incredible ways that God has designed life for us all to have that happen is in the preaching of his word to his people as we gather on Sundays. And yet, God’s word is so rich and deep that all of us need a place, people, and time to really dig deeply into what we learn on a Sunday. A place to see it worked out deeper in our lives, so that we are not just filling ourselves with Biblical information, but living it out.
This is why at Stonegate we love to gather in our Stonegate Groups to study what we learn on Sunday. So, let me give you a few keys for how what is preached and what happens in groups can really help us all enjoy God more and be transformed by his Word.
1. SERMONS IMPRESS AND STONEGATE GROUPS HELP PROCESS
A good sermon is the work of the Holy Spirit to impress God’s Word deeply upon the lives of the congregation. Yet we have all seen many people leave a church service impacted by the message, but then go out to lunch and forget all about it. By tying Stonegate Groups to sermons, you capture and build upon the work the Holy Spirit did in people’s lives through the sermon, and give them even more of an opportunity to respond and have others speak truth into their lives. I have been to countless groups and heard people say things like:
- “It really hit me during the sermon…”
- “I was thinking about what was said in the sermon and…”
- “Now that we are talking about the sermon again, I believe that I need to…”
All of these statements show what it is to see people have time to process the sermon and apply it to their lives. Skilled group leaders realize these are prime opportunities to encourage, love, and speak truth into the lives of their people. Don’t leave this spiritual fruit to rot. Instead, we want to have discipleship environments that work in tandem with Sunday’s sermon and the life of the church through the rest of the week. What we see is that groups can often go deeper and faithfully follow the leading of the Holy Spirit as the sermon becomes a shared springboard to other areas of life that God might have for them to dive into.
2. SERMONS UNITE AND STONEGATE GROUPS CUSTOMIZE
God’s preached Word is powerful, and the pulpit remains the most effective way to bring common vision, direction, and learning to the whole church. Stonegate Groups complement this by unifying our people throughout the week in learning the same things and having the same conversations. This really can make our church feel “smaller” even as it grows, and it can also bring more energy as everyone is moving in the same direction in what they are learning and studying in the Bible.
Groups allow more specific and customized application of a sermon. With that unity our people are then able to move into their neighborhoods, homes, and workplaces and find ways to connect and care for the people God has called us to.
3. SERMONS CONVICT AND STONEGATE GROUPS APPLY
Sermons are filled with great application, but groups provide space and other voices to help draw out and identify the specific application for each of us.
For example, say a sermon is on the topics of forgiveness. The group is then able to help people from all sorts of different backgrounds and places in their spiritual journey apply it to their life. Someone might need to forgive their parents, while for someone else it might be an old co-worker or ex-spouse. The point is that groups allow more specific and customized application of a sermon. And as our church grows and our culture becomes more post-Christian, you can count on the fact that the applications will become even more diverse and nuanced.
For many of us, we leave a church service impacted by the message, but after lunch with our family or friends, we’ve forgotten all about it. If you’re like me, there can be times where I experience a sense of conviction from what is preached during that Sunday sermon, but can just move on with my day once church is over.
Groups is a place where I can revisit that sense of conviction from the Holy Spirit that I might have wanted to pass by, and truly figure out what it will mean for me to be obedient. When we are in groups that are based on the sermon, we have a weekly place where the conviction from God can often be much more customized and specific to their lives. Even better, in groups we can often see what obedience will look like very specifically through the loving support and questioning of good friends. These moments are huge catalysts in the lives of all of us.
Groups are the laboratories where disciples are made and trained. God’s Word is most powerful in our lives when it is given time to marinate and be studied in multiple settings. Because our groups are sermon-based, they give our people the opportunity to be confronted with the same passage of Scripture and questions in a group that they heard on Sunday. This makes it so that the Holy Spirit is going before us, creating conviction in people’s lives that they then get to wrestle through with a loving community.
4. STONEGATE GROUPS LIVE OUT WHAT HAS BEEN CALLED OUT
The work of discipleship is often about creating environments where our people will return to the same truths and have them applied not just cognitively, but to their hearts as well. What we often first understand mentally must later be applied emotionally and experientially. Stonegate Groups are the main environment for us as a church where disciples are made and trained. Without healthy community, we will not really be discipled or make disciples. We need the powerful proclamation of God’s Word to be coupled with the loving connection of brothers and sisters. God’s Word is most powerful in our lives when it is given time to marinate.
It is this tandem that creates life-change, forms us into Jesus’ image, and provokes us to abide and rest in his grace. Through sermons we receive the instruction and truth of God’s Word, and in groups it is transferred to us through relationship. So what are you waiting for? If you are not in a Stonegate Group jump in one today (click here to find a group near you).