This is a series of posts where small group experts share how group life has impacted them personally. The entire series can be found HERE.
This is a guest post from Mark Howell, founder of SmallGroupResources.net, and Community Life Pastor at Parkview Christian Church. You should read Mark’s blog HERE, and follow him on twitter and Facebook.
Ever read the Gospels and find yourself thinking, “Would have loved to be a fly on that wall! What an amazing conversation! Wish I could’ve been there!”
One of those stories actually came to life for me not long ago. We were studying the 10 commandments using The Ten by Liquid. We were working our way through the session on “You shall not murder (Exodus 20:13).” The way the study works is that it doesn’t stop with a look at the commandment itself. It flows right into what Jesus had to say about the commandment in Matthew 5:21-22 and then what John had to say in 1 John 3:11-24.
In order to fully get the scene, you need to know a couple things about my group.
- My wife and I agreed to help some friends of ours get a group started to do 40 Days of Purpose. But the thing is, they live about 35 minutes away. We really weren’t in it for the long haul. Just to help them get it started.
- As our group members went around and introduced themselves on that first night…we were amazed to find out that something like 9 of the 12 who were there had religious backgrounds where they really knew very little about the Bible.
Two things have been going on since we started in October.
- I dread that drive every week. Just sayin’.
- Some amazing things happen almost every week.
Now back to the night we were talking about “you shall not murder.” We were wrestling with phrases like “anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment (Matthew 5:22)” and “anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him (1 John 3:15).
It was already quite a discussion. And then…without warning three different group members blurted out the equivalent of “if that’s really the way it is then am I going to hell?”
It was seriously amazing. I said, “That is a great question, you guys! Let’s take a minute to clear up something right now. If you have your Bible, turn over to 1 John 1:9 and let’s get something in concrete right now.” And we spent the next few minutes making sure my new friends got the idea that we’re all human, that all of us have fallen short, and that God’s forgiveness is always only a moment away. And not only that, but that our relationship with God is always secure.
What a night! Easily one of the top 10 spiritual experiences of my life. My friends left the group that night knowing a very big thing. Their faith was strengthened. And you know what? So was mine! I’ll never look at that commandment the same way again. And neither will my friends.
Have you ever had a small group discussion that really clarified some part of the Christian life for you?
Have you ever had a “spiritual experience” in a small group?