If you have been participating regularly in our Mark sermon series, attending service on Sundays and referring to the weekly Study Guides, then you have noticed certain key questions repeatedly arising, and these centering around our church's priorities of discipleship and community, especially in the form of discipling relationships: How are discipling relationships encouraging you to live out a right understanding of Christ? How can we grow in Christ if we are not in any discipling relationships? How can we begin to enter into discipling relationships?
That these questions are so vital in our Markan series is because the gospel deals fundamentally with the nature of discipleship--with our lifelong movement towards Jesus Christ. As such, delve into any portion of the Markan text and the resonance of discipleship and discipling relationships is almost always felt: consider Mark 1 and Jesus' call to the first of his disciples to "Come, follow"; consider Mark 2 and Christ's dining with tax collectors and sinners; consider Mark 3 where Jesus redefines family as those who do His will; consider, throughout the gospel, the many miraculous healings of Christ performed before many eyes, before community--community genuinely following Him, community openly wondering about Him, and community firmly opposed to Him. Discipleship. Community. Discipling relationships.
If then, you have heard in the past few months the Spirit speaking the good word of discipling relationships to you, there is no better place in our church to turn than to Connection Groups. For Connection Groups are small groups of individuals who connect along the path of Christian discipleship. For the last two years, the Connection Group slogan has been: connecting to transform the individual, the church, and the city. In other words, as we gather together regularly--with hearts longing to move closer to Jesus on the pathway of discipleship--we are transformed: the individual is increasingly edified, the church is increasingly sanctified, and the city is increasingly glorified, in the sense that the gap between heaven and earth becomes increasingly thin.
How does this transformation come about? Well, only by the will of the Father, through the ministry of the Son, and in participation with the Spirit, of course! But, you ask in practical terms... Well, in longing to spur the transformation of discipleship--the transformation that is the natural fruit of discipleship--Connection Groups seek to be hubs within our church: hubs of congregational life, dwelling as a community of genuine love and caring for the congregation in the neighbourhood; hubs of missional participation, befriending the neighbourhood and cooperating with other churches and organizations; and hubs of transformational study, engaging Scripture with mind and heart and practising spiritual rhythms of worship, prayer, and confession.
Sounds exciting, no?
If you feel called to participate in this excitement, pray about joining a Connection Group, or about leading a group in your local neighbourhood. Consider contacting me at , or joining one of the regional potluck picnics being organized by some of your local Connection Groups.
After all, as regards the matters of discipleship, community, and discipling relationships, Mark and his incisive gospel are not going anywhere...anytime soon...!
Connection Group Coordinator